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(yn^ 62)24-10 

SPACE PROGRAM 1945-1956 



DODDlft 5MM0 



i Regulation 210-1 and Air For 
i as a part of the United States 

Prepared under the provisions of Air For 
Systems Command Supplement No. I there 
Air Force Historical Program. 

This document contains information affecting the national defense of the 
United States within the meaning of the Espionage Laws, Title 18, U. S. C, 
Sections 793 and 794. Its transmission or the revelation of its contents 
in any manner to an unauthorized person is prohibited by law. 



prepared as 

Volume V 

(Space Systems Division Supple: 




Adeutenant General, IKAF 
Atteputy Commander (AFSC) 
* for Aerospace Systans 

Chief, DCAS Historical Off/. 

Assistanrror Administration 


TWO QUOTATIONS: Viewpoints on Space Technology 














Viewpoints on Space Technology: 

Before long, someone will start on the construction of a satellite 
vehicle, whether in the United States or elsewhere. History shows that 
the human race does not allow physical development to lag very far 
behind the mental realization that a step can be taken. This is partic- 
ularly true of progress which has a direct bearing on man's conquest of 
his environment. . . . 

Since the United States is far ahead of any other country m both 
airplanes and sea power, and since others are abreast of the United 
States in rocket applications, we can expect strong competition in the 
latter field as being the quickest shortcut for challenging this country's 
position. No promising avenues of progress in rockets can be neglected 
by the United States without great danger of falling behind in the world 
race for armaments. 

J. E. Lipp 

RAND Report RA-15032 

"Reference Papers Relating 

to a Satellite Study," 

1 February 1947 

The type of pyramidal totalitarian regime that the Communists have 
centered in Moscow ... is not adapted for effective performance in 
pioneering fields, eitherin basic science or in involved and novel 
applications . . . Hence it js likely to produce great mistakes and 
great abortions. 

No other nation will have the atomic bomb tomorrow, , . . 

It [the ballistic missile] would never stand the test of cost analysis 
If we employed it in quantity, we would be economically exhausted long 
before the enemy. 



The United States did not have a space program of any sort until 1954, 
when the Air Force finally secured permission to begin preliminary worko 
a satellite reconnaissance system. ["About one year later, in the spring of 

1955, the National Security Council's decision to permit development of a 
relatively simple "scientific satellite" marked the start of another approach 
to space activity. In both instances, it was 1956 Before much in the way of 
funds was available to support either activity. 

The background of American space interest before the 1954-1955 period 
remains comparatively obscure, even to specialists. During the epidemic 
o£ space fever that swept the nation following the Soviet successes of late 1957 
the general public became rather hazily aware of such earlier related 
activities as the experiments of Robert H. Goddard, the development of the 
German V-2, and the Security -shrouded intercontinental ballistic missile 
program. But perhaps because the years between 1945 and 1957 had seen 
slight American space enterprise, and perhaps because Americans little like 
to be told of their failings, the details received no significant attention. 

The purpose of this brief study is to gather some of the threads of space 
enterprise in the 1946-1956 period. For obvious reasons, attention is 
concentrated or. thr American scene and, still more narrowly, on the role of 
the United States Air Force. Nevertheless, an attempt has been made to 
provide some perspective on other activities related to that general theme. 

Available sources are few. H. Lee Bowen's Threshold of Space, 
1945-1959 devotes only portions of its first 18 pages to the pre -1957 years. 
He had completed the draft of a more detailed treatment of Air Force space 
programs by the middle of 1962, but its publication date remained uncertain. 
No other Air Force history deals with the period in any depth. Of course, 
a phalanx of popular writers of variable talent and uncertain knowledge had 
flooded the market with pseudo science treatises on space flight by i960, but 




none of these writers made much use of official documents and most were 
more concerned with dramatics than with the relatively prosaic background 
to the Sputnik year*. 

In the interest of early publication, research for this history was limited 
largely to sources available within the Space Systems Division (Air Force 
Systems Command) at the time of writing. Dr. Bowen, in Air Force 
headquarters, provided both advice and specific information from his own 
research, while cheerfully acceding to the use of some material he had 
laboriously gathered for his own work. Bits and pieces of data came from 
the office of the command historian and from a skimpy lot of documents 
collected fay the author during an earlier assignment to the Aeronautical 
Systems Division. Advice, guidance, and invaluable information were also 
provided by several individuals assigned to both the Space Systems Division 
and its sibling, the Ballistic Systems Division, Major General R. E. Greer, 
Colonels P. E. Worthman and Ray Soper, and lieutenant Colonel V, M. Genez 
were particularly helpful. Individual acknowledgements are provided in 
citations of the information as it appears in the narrative. 

It is to be hoped that additional information bearing on the formative 
years of the space program will appear as a result of continuing research. 
Much that is critical to an adequate understanding has been forgotten, or the 
records have disappeared. Comments on the accuracy and completeness of 
this account are, therefore, openly solicited, and any contributions individual 
readers can make either to the fund of facts or to their interpretation will be 
most welcome. A continuation of the history of Air Force space programs, 
probably covering the period from 1955 through 1959. is presently in the 
research stage with publication scheduled, hopefully, for late 1962 or early 
1963. Revision of this manuscript to reflect the product of reader commentary 
v and addiiionaj research may then be attempted. 


1890 Hermann Ganawindt proposes a reaction-powered space ship 

1895-1898 First publication of Konstatin Tsiolkovski articles on the 
mechanics and theory of space flight 

1906-1908 Robert H. Goddard begins experiments with powder rocketB 

1914 Goddard patents liquid rocket engine 

1919 Jan Publication of Goddard's h A Method of Reaching Extreme 


1923 Hermann Oberth publishes his doctoral thesis on space flight 

Nov Goddard successfully static tests the world's first liquid fuel 

rocket engine 

192? Jul German Society for Space Flight is formed 

1929 Oberth's book, Wege zur RaumscMffahrt , containing engineering 

ndezvous proposal, is published 

Wehrmacht assumes control of German rocket e 

Captain Walter Dornberger is assigned to monitor program for 

the eventual development of a bombardment rocket 

t rocket to an altitude of 7,000 

1938 Formal development of A-4 (V-2) missile begins at Peenemunde 

1942 Oct 2 V-2, on third attempt, successfully completes its initial field 

1944 Sep 8 The first V-2 hits London 

1945 Oct 3 

General of the Armies H H Arnold urges that the 

start the development of long range ballistic missiles and 

space vehicles 

commendations i 

1946 Mar 7 US Navy proposes interservice space program 

Apr 9 Aeronautical Board of Research and Development Committee 

first discusses proposal for American satellite program 
May 12 US Army Air Forces receive the RAND study proposing early 

development of an American satellite and attesting to the 

feasibility of the undertaking 
May 14 Major General C E LeMay presents AAF-RAND study to the 

Aeronautics Board of the Research and Development Committee; 

board fails to take any action 

1947 Jan U S Navy asks Research and Development Board for authority 

over United States satellite development 

Jun Aeronautical Board requests authority to fund satellite studies 

Sep 18 United States Air Force officially created and activated 

Sep 25 USAF headquarters directed Air Materiel Command Engineering 
Division to evaluate RAND satellite studies received the pre- 
vious February 

(Fall) White Sands Proving Ground designs and proposes Army space 
flight experiment 

Dec Navy claims satellite jurisdiction; USAF rocket programs 


Dec 8 Engineering Division completes evaluation of RAND satellite 

Dec 19 Joint Research and Development Board Committee on Guided 
Missiles acquires Department of Defense responsibility for 
coordination and control of Earth Satellite Vehicle programs 

General H S Vandenberg issues policy statement on primacy of 
USAF space interest 

Navy withdraws claim for control of satellite development 
"Grimminger Report" is published, starting United States 
interest in a scientific satellite 

The Artificial Satellite , first published work on scientific 
space experimentation, appears 

USAF headquarters directs the Air Research and Development 
Command to investigate the feasibility of Btarting development 
of an auxiliary nuclear power source for satellites 
Defense Secretary C £ Wilson directs review of all guided 
missile programs with the objective of eliminating duplicative 

mds early start on the development of £ 

Aug Congress approves United States participation in the Inter- 

national Geophysical Year program 

Sep 15 Army Ordnance proposes development of a minimum satellite 
under the name "Project Orbiter" 

Oct USAF Assistant Secretary Trevor Gardner asks the Scientific 
Advisory Group to study and report on the interaction of 
current satellite proposals with the recently accelerated inter- 
continental ballistic missile_p_rogram 

Nov 27 System Requirement Number 5 is issued, covering a j 

___ reconnaissance_satellite 

Dec 14 Army representatives approach the other services with pro- 
posals for cooperative development of project Orbiter 

5 Mar 16 General Operational Requirement Number 80 is issued, J 

covering development of a reconnaissance satellite ! 

May 26 The National Security Council rules that military rockets may 

not be used in the United States scientific satellite program 
Aug ■ T^e Stewart Committee selects the Navy Vanguard proposal as 

. the. United-States scientific sate llite program __ __ 

Aug 31 USAF headquarters directs ARDC to establish a "scientific ■** 
_ __ satellite auxiliary to the Weapon System 117L program 
Oct" "10™ Responsibility for Weapon System 117Lis transferred from 

Wright Air Development Center to the Western Development 

Division of ARDC 
Oct 14 USAF cancels the requirement for a scientific satellite version 

of Weapon System 117L __ 

Nov 1 USAF directs re-establishment of scientific satellite program 

and submission of development plan 

i> Jan 14 Preliminary development plan covering a scientific satellite 
version of Weapon System 117L is published; Western 
Development Division emphasizes urgency of support require- 
ments if program is to have any chance of success 
Jan 16 ARDC headquarters approves preliminary development plan 
Feb Presentation of ARDC plan to Stewart Committee 

Apr 2 Western Development Division publishes full development plan" 

for Weapon System 117L 
Jul 24 USAF approves development plan for Weapon System 117L 



U there is a theme to the following narrative) it is that the United States 
did not exploit its initial postwar advantage over Soviet technology. There is 
significant evidence to support the conclusion that American science could 
have pushed the nation into the space age in advance of the Russians, The 
key event was the successful launch of a satellite, and here the United States 
clearly failed to take the initiative. 

The enormous advantages of such an undertaking have often been stated 
in retrospect, hindsight being one of the most highly perfected human 
characteristics. Enhanced national prestige, a significant lead in the space 
race, and substantial benefits to national security would certainly have 
resulted from the launching of a successful American satellite at any time 
between 1946 and 1956. It is little known that precisely such benefits were 
foreseen on the occasion of the first serious engineering proposal that the 
United States sponsor a satellite program. Ten years before Sputnik, in 
February 1947, a RAND report prepared for the air forces predicted: 

. . . Although trips around the moon and to neighboring planets may seem 
a long way off, the United States is probably in a better position at 
present to progress in this direction than any other nation. Since 
mastery of the elements is a reliable index of material progress, the 
nation which first makes significant achievements in space travel will 
be acknowledged as the world leader in both military and scientific 
techniques. To visualize the impact on the world one can imagine the 
consternation and admiration that would be felt here if the United States 
were to discover suddenly that some other nation had already put up a 
successful satellite. 

Rarely has a forecast been so accurate! 

By 1946 it was apparent to many that the United States then had sufficient 
:echnical competence to embark on a realistic space program with attainable 
jbjectives. Contemporary studies and related correspondence clearly show 
hat both technical specialists and Air Force managers had an abundance of 
'ision. In the early years, before / jJt^ t .fh.e_boogter problem in particular 



would have been troublesome, but the difficulties were probably no more 
formidable than those overcome in developing and operating the X-l, the first 
supersonic aircraft. And from the level of the Air Force chief of staff down 
to project engineers, virtually everyone exposed to the potential of the space 
proposals became an enthusiast. What happened, then, to delay for a decade 
the nation's decision to enter the space age? 

Lack of real progress between 1945 and 1955 was attributable chiefly to 
a sequence of circumstances stemming from the extreme conservatism of 
national goals. Like the "experts" who early denied that aircraft could ever 
play a useful military role, critics of the embryonic space proposals 
questioned both the feasibility and the utility of a space program- -and some- 
times slighted the good sense of its supporters. The dominant attitude 
paralleled that of Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, who in the late 
months of 1954 told reporters he had never heard of an American satellite 
program and when informed that the Soviets might orbit a vehicle earlier 
than the Americans responded publicly that he "wouldn't care if they did." 
Most Americans, secure in their transitory nuclear dominance and thinking 
of national strategy in terms of World War II concepts, probably would have 
agreed with him. 

There were other difficulties and problems in the early space eifort, 
Interservice rivalry certainly was one. Austere budgets, without "frills" 
like missiles and satellites, constituted another. The space effort certainly 
was not the sole victim; over the same decade relatively little progress was 
made in the development of ballistic missiles, nuclear propulsion for both 
aircraft and submarines remained Bludgebound, and experimental aerodynamic 
was so thoroughly stifled that some operational prototype aircraft of 1958 
were superior in performance to contemporary research aircraft. 

It should be remembered, nonetheless, that the decade before 1956 was 
marked-by the emergence of the first intercontinental bombers {produced 
over the violent protests of many who decried the practicality of intercon- 
tinental bombardment), the first turbojet aircraft, the first hydrogen bomb, 
and a host of other major advanc e gf ^ jtjJS^iH;. ajsoj^ e recalled that 
notwithstanding national folklore , ^ jWiW4q »tj?ypffi^isrn ^ as neve '" l°°ked 

with particular favor on revolutionary military technology—as witness the 
fate of General Mitchell--and that the results of World War II had reinforced 
.a national faith in rapid mobilization (the "minuteman syndrome") and an 
unmatched production potential as panaceas for disabilities arising from lack 
of preparedness. It is an historical cliche that the United States has entered 
every war superbly prepared to win the previous war. In this context, the 
struggles of space program advocates to obtain recognition, and their success 
in advancing basic technology to the point where a 1955 start on a space 
program could be realistically scheduled, probably deserve more praise than 
they have been accorded. 

"RAND Rpt RA-15032, "Reference Papers Relating to a Satellite Study," 
I Feb 1947, p48; see also Douglas Aire Co Rpt SM-11827, "Preliminary 
Design of an Experimental ^^(u^fl^EjSlpacfc Ship," 2 May 1946 
(commonly cited as a RANDfiiyUHyiOhki'tBtle and date). 


This page is intentionally left blank 

or the 



that al 

in that 




In the conception of the United State* Air Force, "space" is part of an 
operationally indivisible medium called "aerospace," a continuum from the 
surface of the earth through the atmosphere to the limits of the solar system*-- 
or the universe. In the years preceding feat October 1957 day when the first 
Sputnik radioed from orbit, and in the furor following that day, a great many 
specialized definitions of "space" were foisted on a confused public. Such 
terms as cis-lunar space, trans-lunar space, interplanetary space, near 
space, deep space, and cosmic space were employed loosely, each defined by 
its employer. Subsequently there emerged a better understanding of such 
terminology, and "space" came to mean that near-airless regime above which 
vehicles could not maneuver by aerodynamic processes. As time passed, 
that altitude was informally defined as 25 to 50 miles above the earth. A 
different working formula derived from experience with early satellites, and 
in that context "space" came to mean the height above which it was possible 
for an object to remain in orbit for significant periods without catastrophic 
degradation of performance because of aerodynamic drag. The minimum 
height for such performance was informally defined as being about 100 miles 
above the earth's surface. Between, in the altitudes from 50 miles to 
100 miles above the surface, there existed insufficient atmosphere to support 
•.aerodynamic flight and too much to permit orbital flight. 

None of these considerations was of any moment when the first technical 
discussions of space flight began to appear at the start of the. twentieth 

century. Such discussions Receded by many years the first consideration 
of rockets aa long-range bombardment devices. 

The earliest "serious proposal for a space ship emerged from the mind of 
Hermann Ganswindt, a German dabbler in science and invention, who in 1890 
contributed the notion of a reaction-powered vehicle based on reasonably 
sound theory but impossibly impractical engineering details. Ganswindt 
apparently preferred to argue the theory rather than improve the details, and 
apart from stimulating some heated but skeptical discussion in minor techni- 
cal journals had no lasting influence. 

Konstantin Tsiolkovski {also Ziolkovsky) was a Russian, a teacher largely 
self-educated in physics and mathematics, who first mentioned the possibility 
of space flight in an 1895 article which, somewhat to his surprise, was 
accepted and published. By 1698 he had carefully refined his ideas on the 
subject- -which had fascinated him for perhaps 20 years--and had arrived at 
a workable rocket theory involving liquid fuels based on kerosene, the only 
then-apparent means of producing the exhaust velocities he knew to be 
essential. He devoted another 25 years to further studies, with little or no 
experimentation, before receiving any general recognition. Even then, that 
recognition came because the Soviet state was interested in demonstrating 
that a native Russian had been the first to propound mathematical formulae 
for rocketry. 

Tsiolkovski knew nothing of Ganswindt, and neither of the two pioneers who 
followed Tsiolkovski heard of him before their own work became rather well 
advanced. The creation of useful interest in rocketry--and in space flight- - 
was the achievement of a German — Hermann Oberth — and an American — 
Robert H. Goddard- -whose work was for practical purposes entirely 

Consideration of non-technical (fictional) or pseu do- science (fanciful) 
treatments of space flight lias been excluded from this volume for two 
reasons: apart from stimulating interest in adolescent minds such 
science-fiction had no influence on later events, and the subject has be 
exhausted to the point of ennui ferwpffi number of^tudents and c 
seurs of the litei ' "' l '"* ''*' " : " 

independent of outside influences. Oberth was a theoretician and Goddard 
an experimenter. Oberth had space flight ia mind from the start; Goddard 
was interested in rocketry almost as an end in itself. Oberth never suc- 
ceeded in transforming his entirely sound concepts into a functioning rocket 
engine; Goddard did virtually no public theorizing until he had proven the 
validity of his concepts by demonstration. Goddard was a proponent and 
practitioner of pure research; with Oberth, the object of space flight far 
overbore considerations of Science in the abstract. Goddard published only 
two significant items, and one of these was a 1919 paper which evoked enough 
public ridicule (because it gently suggested the theoretical feasibility of 
hitting the moon with a payload of .flash powder) to cause its author deliberately 
to seek obscurity for 16 years. Oberth was more interested in obtaining 
support for his ideas than in proving or trying them, and he was entirely 
willing to employ such unprofessional media as pseudo-science motion 
pictures in the process. Goddard was the first man to build and successfully 
test a liquid-fuel rocket (November 1923), and by May 1935 had succeeded in 
sending a gyroscope- stabilised rocket to an altitude of 7,000 feet. (The best 
of the pre-Peenemunde rockets created by the German research group that 
eventually developed the V-2 was much heavier but attained an altitude of 
only 6,500 feet in about the same time period. ) Oberth's efforts resulted in 
the formation, in July 1927, of a German Society for Space Flight which 
promptly set about recruiting enthusiasts, seeking publicity, and collecting 
funds to support experimental work. Goddard carried his objections to 
publicity so far as to refuse to answer letters from such groups. In 1929 
Oberth reworked his 1923 book, which had started the enthusiasm in Germany, 
and produced as a result the most authoritative of the early treatises on 
experimental rocketry. Goddard made no effort to circulate the results of his 
work until 1936, when it was largely complete (at least he carried it little 

Indirectly, Goddard's work led to the formation of the Aerojet Engineer- 
ing Company through the Guggenheim Foundation (Jet Propulsion Laboratory 
of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at California Institute of Tech- 
nology), the interest of Dr. TheodgjgSftqn Karman, and Army Ordnance 

^,Wl^vH H-^PPIBS^;--. 


Department desires to use high altitude rockets to prove-out missile designs. 
Very much the same thing came from Oberth's efforts, which led with similar 
indirection to German Army sponsorship of the experimental work being con- 
ducted by the "Society for Space Flight. " The Wehrmacht , of course", was not 
interested in space flight but was very much interested in long range artillery 
that did not come under the ban of the Treaty of Versailles. As it happened, 
that treaty became inconsequential shortly after the German Society for Space 
Flight did the same; Hitler's seizure of power in January 1933 coincided with 
the start of Army- funded rocket research, and the indifferently concealed 
rearmament of Germany thereafter obviated the need for any particular dis- 
guise. By that time, however, the well financed experiments had been trans- 
ferred to Peenemunde, on the Baltic coast, and had produced results which 
encouraged the Wehrmacht to continue research toward the objective of a long 
range bombardment rocket. Wernher von Braun, a boyish latecomer to the 
Society for Space Flight, became the principal civilian manager of the 
Peenemunde work and converted to his way of thinking--that missileB were a 
step toward space flight, not an end in themselves — the unlikely figure of the 
military chief, Captain {later Lieutenant General) Walter Dornberger. With 
resources that at one time accounted for at least one third of Germany's 
entire aerodynamic and technological research establishment, they moved 
with relative rapidity from the primitive rockets of 1933 to the operationally 
ready V-2 bombardment missiles of 1943. Development of the V-2, or 
properly the A-4, began during the winter of 1938-1939 as the climax of five 
years of applied research. The first successful operational prototype, and 
the third test vehicle in the series, completed a field trial on 2 October 1942; 
more than 100 production versions were tested in Poland in the early months 
of 1943. The first combat firing at London came on 8 September 1944, and 
by March of the following year more than 1,300 V-2'b had followed the first 
to England. 

Unfortunately, from the standpoint of the scientist and the space flight 
enthusiast, concentration of attention on bombardment missiles neatly 
eliminated serious work on space research. At least four people 
(Taiolkovski, Oberth, Goddard, 9J^^f^^C^JSf < ^'^ ma - nn °f Hamburg) had 


worked out perfectly valid data on exhaust velocities, mass ratios, and 
trajectories before 1930; the decade of the 30'e wae spent in carrying rocket 
technology to the point of practical application, and during the first half of 
the 40'e rocket technology was applied to the art of war. Ther« were some 
few exceptions--concentrated largely in Germany, where the only propulsion 
systems with sufficiently high thrust to promise eventual space applications 
were being perfected. Walter Dornberger recalled Beveral years after the 
fact that "our aim from the beginning was to reach infinite space, and for this 
we needed speeds hitherto undreamed of. Range and velocity were the great 
landmarks that guided our thoughts and actions." In another context he 
remarked, "With our big rocket motors and step rockets we could build space 
ships which would circle the earth like moons . . . Space stations . . . could 
be put into orbit around the earth. An expedition to the moon was a popular 
topic too." He also conceded, however, that most German scientists were 
not interested in anything beyond the atmosphere. 

In point of fact, Oberth was the first practicing scientist to have a clear 
concept of a useful artificial satellite, although his theorizing, carried to the 
point of detailed formulae, was concentrated about the notion of man-carrying 
satellites, and space ships. lacking any appreciationfor the probable growth of 
guidance and control technology to match what he anticipated for rocketry, Oberth 
largely ignored the pos sibility of robot vehicles. He saw specific applications 

Dornberger wrote the quoted words in 1952, seven years after the col- 
lapse of Nazi Germany but five years before the first Sputnik. When he 
put them on paper, he was principally engaged in work on a boost-glide 
vehicle for military uses—a vehicle of semi-orbital character based on 
the Sanger-Bredt thesis. It '.nay reasonably be assumed, however, that 
his memory was precise, it ie certain that most military organizations 
developing large rocket engines contained a noticeable sprinkling of space 
flight advocates, and in a group built around the core of Oberth disciples 
the probability was impressively high. 


in observation, mapping, and communications--among other fields. Interest*- 
ingly enough, he clearly foresaw, in 1924, the probable need for rendezvous 
satellite stations to carry additional fuel for true extra-terrestrial expeditions. 

In the immediate postwar years, only two serious mentions of satellite 
programs receivedmuch public notice. Defense Secretary James V.ForreBtal's 
brief mention of the possibility of military satellite applications iahis 1948 report 
on the state of the National Military Establishment drew slight- - and sometime s 
condescending'-attention. The publication of a short article {later called the 
Grimmiiiger Report) in the October 1948 issue of the Journal of Applied Physics 
drewnoticetothe concept of a scientific satellite, but except among devotees of 
space flight it had little lasting influence. Popularization of the space flight thesis 
hadits start in the early 1950's, withWernhervonBraun'simpassionedadvocacy 
of the need for manned space stations for military purposes — aii obvious outgrowth 
of the Oberththesis--and with a gradual growth of interest in instrumented 
satellites--an evolution of the Gcddard theme--amongphysical scientists in 
general. A slim 1951 volume entitled The Artificial Satellite constituted the first 
public circulation of an entire book devoted to discussion of the subject. Its 
emphasis was on a "minimum space vehicle, "a favorite 1953-1955projectof 
severalprominentBritish andAmerican scientists. Atthatpoint, the "open" 
aspects of satellite work began to merge again with the military aspects. The 
"minimum" satellite became the core of a classified Army- Navy project, 
Project Orbiter, and the whole blended imperceptibly with International Geo- 
physical Year proposals then gaining adherents. Almost inevitably, the 
feasibility of experimentation with satellites and spac e vehicles became associa^ 
ted with the only available launch vehicles: the military rockets then under 
development. Private enterprise had neither the means nor the motivation to 
support multi-million dollar space research. 

In a fashion that was reminiscent of Goddard's b: 
feasibility of a moon rocket, Oberth touched in passing on the notion of a 
orbiting mirror that could focus the sun's rays on an area of the earth-- 
for heat and light In the circus atmosphere of the immediate postwar 
world, the pseudo-science publications seized upon his vagrant (and mos 
impractical} thougnt and em ?§K!^?&H cqncAtipns of a deadly space 

conducted by the Germans required still more vision than was common to the 
postwar years. The first prominent American with courage to speak 
forthrightly about the future of warfare in such a context was General of the 
Armies H. H. Arnold. In his "War Report," a summary of achievements and 
an anticipation of needs, he stated the problem baldly: 

... we should be ready with a weapon of the general type of the German 
V-2 rocket, having greatly improved range and precision, and launched 
from great distances. 

If defenses which can cope even" with such a 3, 000-mile-per-hour projec- 
tile are developed, we must be ready to launch such projectiles nearer 
the target, to give them a shorter time of flight and make them harder 
to detect and destroy. We must be ready to launch them from unex- 
pected directions. This can be done from true space ships, capable of 
operating outside the earth's atmosphere. The design of such a ship is 
all but practicable today; research will unquestionably bring it into 
being within the foreseeable future.* 

The first identifiable interest in a specific American space program was 
expressed by a group of Bureau of Aeronautics planners under Commander 
Harvey Hall. By the fall of 1945 they had sifted through enough of the 
Peenemunde refuse to acquire enthusiasm for the vague satellite proposals 
that had emerged from the final years of the German programs. In the 
course of a 3 October 1945 meeting, Hall and his fellows in the Electronics 
Division of the bureau suggested the need for a satellite test program to 
determine the basic feasibility of the concept. With some support from a 
Navy that was willing to investigate virtually any foreseeable future mission 
(Bureau of Aeronautics created a Committee for Evaluation of the Feasibility 
of Space Rocketry), the Hall group opened a series of discussions with the 

General Arnold's forecast was promptly ridiculed as "more or less 
fantast.c'' s „d as the sort of thing that". . . is impossible today and 
«Ulbe impossible for man years" in official testimony by the wartime 
head of American research programs, Vannevar Bush-which may help 

he n, P ir n \ V tW ° oHic iei& a i« n ' eat ' 1 OI > ^ace research reached 
the public in the years betwef 


1. Walter Dornberger, V-2, New York Viking Press, 1958 (copyright 1952 
in German edition); Dornberger testimony before Select Committee on 
Astronautics and Space Exploration, 85th Cong, 2nd Session, 30 Apr 1958, 
in Hearings Before the Select Committee. ... on HR 11881. 

2. Except where specifically noted, the foregoing summary is based princi- 
pally on Willy Ley, Rockets, Missiles, and Spa ce Travel (New York, 
Viking Press, 1957 edition), and Arthur C. Clarke, The Making of a 
Moon, (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1957). Ley was personally 
associated with the early German experiments and knew virtually all of 
the participants. He remained on friendly terms with both von Braun 
and Dornberger in later years. Clarke is, next to Ley, the most 
popular and the most proficient of those who write on space flight topics 
and has the additional qualification of being both a practicing and a 
preaching space scientist. The literature on early space work is rela- 
tively sparse, but there is a considerable fund of related material on 
early missile and rocket experiments. Robert H. Goddard, A Method of 
Reaching Extreme Altitudes (Smithsonian Institute, 1919), and Li qui d- 
Propellant Rocket Development (Smithsonian, 1936), are the only original 
products of America's rocket pioneer, although his wife presented major 
excerpts from his notebooks in the posthumous R oc ke t Development 
(New York, Prentice Hall 1948). E.G. PendrayT^ The Coming A"je"*of 
Rocket Power (New York, Harpers, 1945), is the earliest reliable 
summary of the work of the American Rocket (Interplanetary) Society, 
but has virtually no emphasis on space flight. Hermann Oberth, Wege 
zur Raumschiffahrt (Munich, 1929) ( Road to Space Travel) , lacks adequate 
translation but is essentially the core of Man I nt o Space (New York, 
Whittsley House, 1953), even though the English language version carries 
heavy evidence of hindsight and popularization. K.W. Gatland, Project 
Satellite ( New York, British Book Centre, 1958) provides almost the only 
other readily available source on early origins of space research. Any- 
thing resembling a definitive history of the subject remains to be written. 



The jetsam strewn over the face of Europe in the process of dismember- 
ing the Third Reich included vast quantities of technical data and a respect- 
able assemblage of practicing rocket scientists. Within reasonable limits, 
the western allies cooperated with one another in the collection and disposi- 
tion of such esoteric war booty; the scavengers of the Soviet Union competed 
hotly with the West for equipment, records, and personnel of the defunct 
German missile programs. In the scramble, the United States fared rather 
well, emerging with missiles and roqket engines sufficient for several 
dozen test shots and with personnel and records sufficient to keep intelli- 
gence specialists and scientists busy for months--or years.* 

All three services promptly set to work on missiles and rockets based 
on the German originals as well as a few of the more advanced products of 
domestic wartime research and development. Something more than 
academic interest was displayed in the question of whether ballistic missiles 
constituted an extension of air warfare, a variant of long range artillery, or 
a possible extension of the technique of a naval strike force. 

The concept of long range ballistic missiles was sufficiently foreign to 
the United States experience to require a considerable revision of established 
theories there. The exploitation of loosely defined apace vehicle research 

Because of the fact that the ground and air arms of the Army were com 
peting with one another, and both with the Navy, in the "liberation" 
process, it was impossible to specify with accuracy how much each 
service accumulated. An indicator may be found, however, in the 
experience of the Department of State, the only agency officially inter- 
ested in collecting German diplomatic records. Material transported t 
the United States for examination and utilization's too bulky to permit 
page counts; the total of diplonffifitfiBrrespond|nbe 
more than 450 tons. 




Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratories at California Institute of Technology, 
with Glenn L. Martin Company, with North American Aviation, Incorporated, 
and with the Douglas Aircraft Company. By early 1946, all four establish- 
ments had made preliminary analyses of requirements for the design of 
spacecraft and had concluded that a satellite could be placed in orbit in the 
relatively near future if the attempt were adequately supported. 

Initial estimates visualized the expenditure of 85 million to 88 million 
for the development and construction of a 2,000-pound satellite to be boosted 
into orbit by a rocket vehicle possessing between 100, 000 and 200, 000 pounds 
of thrust. Upon consideration, the Navy decided it was unable to finance 
such a program unassisted, so on 7 March 1946 Hall and his associates met 
with Army Air Forces members of the Aeronautical Board (jointly staffed 
by Bureau of Aeronautics and Army Air Forces representatives) to consider 
his suggestion that the two services undertake a cooperative space program. 
(Captain W. P. Cogswell and Hall represented the Navy; Major General 
H, J. Knerr, Major General K. W. McClellan, and Brigadier General 
W. L. Richardson were the principal Army attendees, ) The results of the 
meeting were summarized in a memorandum which said, in part, 
"... the general advantages to be derived from pursuing the satellite devel- 
opment appear to be sufficient to justify a major program, in spite of the 
fact that the obvious military, or purely naval applications, in themselves 
may not appear at this time to warrant the expenditure. On this basis, the 
Army representatives agree to investigate the extent of Army interest by 
discussions with [Major] General [C. E.] LeMay [director of research and 
development] . . . . " 

By 9 April, the satellite proposal had found a place on the agenda of the 
Aeronautical Board's Research and Development Committee. A formal 
discussion was scheduled for the 14 May meeting of the committee, at which 
time an official response to the Navy proposal was to be presented. 

In the interval between the 9 April discussion and the 14 May meeting, 
the matter came to the attention of the Office of the Commanding General, 
Army Air Forces. * That office decided that the position of the air forces 
-in any interservice conference would be compromised unless- its represent- 
atives could produce a paper demonstrating equal competence with the 
Navy--and equal interest—in space research. Air staff authorities also 
felt that the Army Air Forces should have primary responsibility for any 
military satellite vehicles, considering such activity be essentially an 
extension of strategic air power. Thus was shaped perhaps the first expre 
sion of a viewpoint that became a significant issue in interservice rivalries 
/or the next 15 years. 

Whether General Carl Spaatz, newly succeeded to the post, actually had 
custody of the affair is uncertain. Some 15 years later he had no mem- 
ory of the incident, suggesting that General LeMay, his deputy chief of 
air staff for research and development, probably handled the details. 
LeMay, although diligent in his efforts to rebuild the air forces into a 
postwar effective striking arm, was rather less interested in far 
advanced projects than in more immediate problems. The possibility 
that Spaatz set the resultant policy Can not be eliminated, although it is 
also possible that LeMay seized the opportunity to assert air force 
prerogatives in space as an extension of strategic air power. Both 
LeMay and Spaatz, in any event, were fully conversant with General 
Arnold's views, and Arnold had taken pains to see that his opinions 
were circulated. In words that were somewhat bitter and probably 
aphoristic, one of the "young Turks" wrote a brief memoir ui those days. 
He recalled that, "In 1945, General Arnold called a meeting of 250 of 
the key officers of the Air Force. . . He told them he was about to 
retire and he had some advice to give them. He said that if they didn't 
quit operating and get to thinking, they would find themselves in the 
Service Forces where they belonged. . .He said he was pretty well 
convinced that an airplane was not a good device to wage war in, and 
the boys {'you colonels and little buck-generals, ' he said) should quit 
'he throttle bending and learn something else while there was still time. 
And he recommended that the Air Force employ all the scientific brains 
they could find, and make their own careers out of thinking up ways of 
turning the weird and wondrous facts the scientists unearthed into useful 
channels. " In such circumstances, it is probable that one of the 
"colonels and little buck generals" secured approvals from both Spaatz 
and LeMay for the actions thatLJollowed. ?... 

Military Uses of Space: 1946-1991 

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military space program from the conceptualization of the uses of space to the present realization of 
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General LeMay, charge&with disposing of the problem, asked the 
Douglas Aircraft Company to have its Project RAND group undertake a satel- 
lite feasibility study for the air forces — on a three-week deadline "to meet a 
pressing responsibility." Douglas sidetracked other current work-and ordered 
50 of the company's best scientists and engineers to work on the LeMay assign- 
ment. The study was ready, in approved draft, on 2 May; after minor 
revision it was actually forwarded to the Pentagon on 12 May 1946, barely in 
time for use during the 14 May meeting. 

The RAND report was, in the simplest terms, a rapid but thorough 
engineering analysis of satellite feasibility. Its conclusions were entirely 
straightforward:". . .modern technology has advanced to a point where it 
now appears feasible to undertake the design of a satellite vehicle. " An 
abstract of the original 321 page study appeared the following month with 
an equally forthright statement of conclusions: 

The Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., . . . has undertaken s 
tive, realistic, engineering appraisal of the possibilities of building a 
space ship which will circle the earth as a satellite. Report SM- 11827, 
here abstracted, shows it possible today to build such a vehicle which 
will take off from the surface of the earth and return thereto without 
destroying itself-.this on the basis of our present state of technological 
advancement and without dependence on future devalopments such as 
atomic energy. The particular space ship studied is one designed to 
obtain scientific data in the upper reaches of the atmosphere and beyond. 
Once this objective is reached, the feasibility of designing a missile 
{satellite?] for direct military use will have been demonstrated and 
then design can be undertaken with confidence. 

The arguments, and indeed the basic calculations, were remarkably 
similar to those exposed to the American public in the period immediately 
following the 4 October 195? circuit of Sputnik I. Although considering the 
feasibility and need for a military vehicle, the initial reports dealtmostly 
with the problem cf orbiting a 500-pound instrumented packet designed to 
collect information on "cosmic rays, gravitation, geophysics, terrestial 
magnetism, astronomy, metorology, and properties of the upper 
atmosphere. " 

The vehicle was conceived of as a multi-stage rocket, using either 
alcohol-oxygen (the propellants of^^e. German V-g) or hydrogen-oxygen. 

A four-stage alcohol- oxygen rocket and a two or three .stage hydrogen- 
oxygen rocket received detailed consideration. The gross weight of the 
alcohol- oxygen version was computed at 302, 055 pounds. 

The operating mode proposed in RAND's etudy was remarkably like 
that actually adopted when the United States began launching satellites 12 
years later--even to the suggestion that the vehicle be permitted to stab- 
ilize in an extended elliptic arc immediately before firing of the final stage. 
Calculations (or estimates) of meteorite frequency and re-entry heating 
were carefully done, prompting the blunt statement "that the maximum 
acceleration and internal temperatures can be kept within limits safely 
withstood by a human being. Since the vehicle is not likely to be damaged 
by meteorites and can be safely brought back to earth, there is good reason 
to hope that future satellite vehicles will be built to carry human beings. "° 

Although earlier considerations of a "satellite" had been either admit- 
tedly theoretical (that is, generally feasible only in the minds of fanatic 
space flight devotees) or entirely implausible, the RAND study of mid- 1946 
was nearly as much concerned with engineering as with basic theory and 
was based en technology then attainable. However, the importance of the 
report lay not in the precision of its calculations (both Tsiolkovski and 
Oberth had provided specifics), but in the methods. The figures used in 
the report, moreover, represented "a reasonable compromise between the 
extremes which are possible with the data now in hand, n One point seemed 
v:i ,ilK- important to the authors:". . . a satellite vehicle can be made. . . 
;r. the present state of the art. " In an editorial aside, as if anticipating the 
emergence of an anti-missile, anti~ satellite faction, they emphasized that 

i engineers agree that it is definitely possible 
to undertake design and construction now of a vehicle which would become 
a satellite of the earth."* 

One of the most important viewpoints of the RAND study was contained 
in a cogent preface on the significance of a satellite: 

Attempting in early 1946 to estimate the values to be derived from a 
development program aimed at the establishment of a satellite circling 
the earth above the atmosphere is as difficult as it would have been, 
some years before the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, to visualize 
the current uses of aviation in war and in peace. Some of the fields in 
which important results are to be expected are obvious; others, which 
may include some of the most important, will certainly be overlooked 
because of the novelty of the undertaking. 

The RAND study made one other point that was largely disregarded in 
subsequent years: ". . .the development of a satellite will be directly 
applicable to the development of an intercontinental rocket missile. "** 

The viewpoint of Douglas Aircraft Company engineers (not theoretical 
scientists) and of the Army Air Forces Scientific Advisory Group (which 
in the December 1945 report prepared at General Arnold's urging noted 
the feasibility of developing a long-range ballistic missile based on 
Peenemunde group work) may profitably be contrasted with the December 
1945 testimony of Vannevar Bush, then chief of the Office of Scientific 
Research and Development. Bush, who had been and still was for 
practical purposes the "czar" of military research and development, 
told a special Senate Committee on Atomic Energy: ". . . We have 
plenty to think about that is very definite and very realistic—enough so 
that we don't need to step out into some of these borderlines which seem 
to be, to me, more or less fantastic. " He added, n . . . there has been 
a great deal said about a 3, 000-mile high-angle rocket. In my opinion, 
such a thing is impossible today and will be impossible for many years. " 

Eight years later, conversatives in the Department of Defense would 
detour the entire space program by insisting that a satellite program 
must not be allowed to interfere in any fashion with any missile program- 
During the post-Sputnik congressional hearings of late 1957 and early 
1958, the most outspoken advocate of satellite work, Wernher von Braun 
(then directing technical effort at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency) 
noted that satellite experiments certainly could be of as great advantage 
to the missile program as the missile program could be to satellite 
research. That viewpoint, first expressed by RAND 12 years earlier, 
apparently was acceptable only to the von Braun group (Army Ballistic 
Missile Agency) and to a few Air Force officers. Administration 
officials rejected it in their 1958 testimony. $,*>- 

More particularly and more immediately, RAND anticipated military 
reauirements for both a satellite to aid in missile guidance and another with 
b reconnaissance and weather surveillance assignment. Scientific informa- 
tion of immense significance could certainly be obtained, with particular 
benefits probable in the fields ofgravitation research, astronomy, weather 
forecasting, ionospheric studies, and bio-astronautics. Communications 
satellites were specifically anticipated; the 25,000-mile orbit "stationary 
satellite" received detailed consideration. Finally, in what probably lent 
the final touch of fantasy for conservative readers, the RAND studies briefly 
touched on the potential of the satellite as a forerunner of true space flight: 

The most fascinating aspect of successfully launching a satellite 
would be the pulse quickening stimulation it would give to considerations 
of interplanetary travel. Whose imagination is not fired by the possibil- 
ity of voyaging out beyond the limits of our earth, traveling to the Moon, 
to Venus and Mars? But, a man-made satellite, circling our globe 
beyond the limits of the atmosphere is a first step. The other necessary 
steps would surely follow in rapid succession. Who would be so bold as 
to say that this might not come within our time ? 

Descending to the more prosaic, the engineering study considered in 
deia-} the several ingredients of a successful satellite program: dynamics 
of orbital motion, power plants and fuels, structural weights, design 
proportions, size and trajectory factors, guidance, orbital problems, 
descent and landing, general vehicle design, the requirements for a man- 
carrying vehicle, an estimation of time and cost, and an evaluation of 
research and development requirements.* 

Although the entire concept was startling in its implications, in the 
opinion of those experts who looked at it 15 years later one of its most 
important contributions- -largely unrecognized at the time--was its pene- 
trating analysis of the advantages of and obstacles to the use of hydrogen as 
^ a prcpellant. Perhaps less significant but certainly of considerable 

It seems neither necessary to discuss in detail thes 

RAND studiesnor(inviewoftf^Mr*np'*4tudy)feasibleto do so. Copit 
su rvived, and with a bit o^cg^y&lA^i^a -still be located 1 6 year s late 

i that it represented the basic technical conservatism of the 
approach, was the general estimate of research and development cost--£l$0. 
millions--and time requirements: "approximately five years time. " Except 
that the eventual payload was appreciably less, both the cost and the time 
were remarkably close to the actuals of the Vanguard program- -which 
finally succeeded in March 1958. In May of 1946, therefore, the best 
engineering talent the Army Air Forces could employ had concluded that: 

Technology and experience have now reached the point where it is 
possible to design and construct craft which can. . . become satellites 
of the earth. This statement is documented in this report, which is a 
design study for a satellite vehicle judiciously based on German experi- 
ence with V-2, and which relies for its success only on sound engi- 
neering development which can logically be expected as a consequence 
of intensive application to this effort. The craft which would result 
from such an undertaking would almost certainly do the job of becoming 
a satellite, but it would clearly be bullcy, expensive, and inefficient in 
terms of the spaceship we shall be able to design after twenty years of 
intensive work in this field. la making the decision as to whether or 
not to undertake construction of such a craft now, it is not inappropriate 
to view our present situation as similar to that in airplanes prior to the 
flight of the Wright Brothers. We can see no more clearly all the utility 
and implications of spaceships than the Wright brothers could see fleets 
of B-29's bombing Japan and air transports circling the globe. 

Unhappily for the prospect of immediate approval and ; 
approach to the space flight problem, the obvious expensive nature of the 
program, its tenuous justification and the lack of either obvious or immediate 
benefits, and the complete absence of any motivation that seemed salable to 
the general public combined to keep enthusiasm well within bounds. T 

It must be remembered that the immediate postwar years were charac- 
terized by attitudes peculiar to such periods. Congress, the accepted 
sounding board for public opinion, was set on reducing taxes, cutting 
federal expenses, and satisfying pent-up consumer demand. There was 
no apparent threat to the security of the United States; indeed, with 
exclusive possession of the atomic bomb it seemed the wildest of fancies 
to conjecture an attack of any sort, from any quarter. Moreover, to 
many it seemed fanciful enough to work toward an all-jet Air Force 

Although the satellite proposals were discussed during the 14 May 1946 
Research and Development Committee meeting, nothing approaching a deci- 
sion resulted. The committee merely forwarded its summary to the 
Aeronautical Board with a notation that there was no agreement between the 
air and navy factions, and the Aeronautical Board characteristically decided 
to await receipt of a high level definition of responsibilities for the military 
_ : _.__ 14 

much less a space force. Finally, the chauvinism characteristic of 
wartime public opinion in every democracy had convinced all but a few 
that the United States possessed the world's finest aircraft and a support- 
ing technology second to none. With Germany crushed, Russia trodden 
to bits by invasion and counterassault, France a shell filled with 
political unrest, and Britain nearly bankrupt, there seemed no conceivable 
competitor in the technical fields. The sense of realism, the urgency 
inherent in the Navy satellite proposal, the Arnold philosophy, and the 
RAND study was unique. 

A much less expensive proposal for space experimentation, one having 
"no obvious scientific value" but possessing a "propaganda value" rated 
as "considerable," reached the desk of W. Stuart Symington, then 
civilian chief of the air arm, the day before the 14 May 1946 Research 
and Development Board meeting. Symington, who was scarcely timid 
in his support of advanced developments, suggested to one of the air staff 
chiefs {Lieutenant General I C. Eaker) that a proposal to shoot a cloud 
of luminous particles at the moon might be "sticking our neck out as 
regards careless use of taxpayers money. . . " One of Eaker's aides, 
who was convinced that the air forces should make some start on space 
research, nevertheless cautioned his chief, "The newspapers would 
have a field day if they learned that we were spending a big sum of 
money to send a cloud of dust to the moon." The project in question, 
which would--if successful—have constituted a "scientific first" of 
enormous influence on public opinion, required little more than one of 
the many surplus V-Z rockets plus a modified nose cone. 13 

UhUtAvU!! Ill 

Impatient of the delay, the Navy in January 1947 appealed to the 
Joint Research and Development Board to create a special ad hoc committee 
on astronautics todetermine which of the services should have cognizance 
over space programs. Each branch obviously recognized the vital char- 
acter of such a decision (which was not finally reached until March 1961}. 
No ruling at all was forthcoming immediately, with the result that the 
Aeronautical Board and its Research and Development Committee undertook 
to defend its own primacy. Inasmuch as the Aeronautical Board was equally 
composed of Army Air Force and Navy Bureau of Aeronautics delegates, that 
was no more than a temporizing solution. The absence of any firm policy on 
which to base the assignment of actual projects or programs continued to 
dilute whatever useful results happened to emerge from studies. 

In June 1947 the Aeronautical Board asked that its innate authority to 
coordinate special studies and research projects be confirmed hut before 
agreement and a binding decision could be obtained, new developments had 
overtaken the old. The Joint Research and Development Board on 
19 December 1947 directed that its own Committee on Guided Missiles 

■sponsibility for the coordination of the Earth Satellite Vehicle. " 

By that time the muddled organizational squabble had grown more acri- 
: through the separation of the air service from the Army and its 
appearance as an independent Air Force. In the process of creating the new 
Department of Defense, the Joint Research and Development Board was 
transformed from a coordinating body into a policy body with authority 
derived from its status as part of the defense department. Moreover, 
continuing indecision and the implications of Aeronautical Board recommen- 
dations had combined to make space policy a matter of defense department 
i rather than a joint service problem . 

There was one further obstacle, defined later by a keen student of the 
period, which arose from the fact that the board and its various committees 
were strongly influenced by civilian members who frequently exhibited "the 
conservative judgement that has often characterized leading academic 
scientists, and for a long time they djamis^ed/^iace^lans as 'military 



During the 1940-1948 period the most highly respected spokesman of 
American science, the individual who had ultimate wartime authority over 
virtually all applied science and research used by the armed forces, 
Vannevar Bush, exposed the American people to his opinions on the future 
of the military arts. His influence could scarcely be questioned; his patron- 
izing distrust of General Arnold (and military scientists in general) was all 
too obvious. 

We are . . .decidedly interested [he wrote] in the question of 
whether there are soon to be high- trajectory guided missiles- . . 
spanning thousands of miles and precisely hitting chosen targets. The 
question is particularly pertinent because some eminent military men, 
exhilarated perhaps by a short immersion in matters scientific, have 
publicly asserted that there are. We have been regaled by scary art- 
icles, complete with maps and diagrams, implying that soon we are 
thus all to be exterminated, or that we are to employ these devilish 
devices to exterminate someone else. We even have the exposition of 
missiles fired so fast that they leave the earth and proceed about it 
indefinitely as satellites, like the moon, for some vaguely specified 
military purposes. All sorts of prognostications of doom have been 
pulled from the Pandora's box of science, often by those whose scientific 
qualifications are a bit limited, and often in such vague and general 
terms that they are hard to fasten upon. These have had influence on 
the resolution and steadiness with which we face a hard future, and 
they have done much harm, vague as they are. But this one is explicit, 
and we can treat it. 

And treat it he did. In essence, Bush ridiculed notions of ballistic 
missiles on grounds of "astronomical" costs and impossible inaccuracies 
complicated by the obvious impossibility of creating an effective warhead. 

The man who thus cavalierly dismissed the ballistic missile as entirely 
impractical and satellites as the vaporings of military incompetents was, 
during the critical years 1946 through 1948, chairman of the Research and 
Development Board. 

As was probably inevitable in the climate of the times, the Research and 
Development Board ultimately rejected the satellite proposal as not supported 
by a military requirement. That did not end the matter, however, the Navy in 
particular was extremely interested in using a cluster of available rockets to 

^.^J^Hfcv^ 5SEH-2 

years later. *° But the key decision was that of the Research and 
Development Board, and its Guided Missile Committee allowed the proposal 
to die oi funds starvation. The reason; no evidence of military utility. A 
great many promising missile programs also disappeared from the funding 
schedules in 1947 and 1948, most because they were too theoretical or too 
far removed from operational utility to satisfy existing requirements during 
a period of financial retrenchment. There was no ready means of appeal; 
the position of the Research and Development Board, interposed between the 
researchers and the upper levels of the defense department, gave that 
organization something like a final word. 

Irretrievably tied to the missile program, and being controlled essent- 
ially by the missile program managers, space and satellite proposals could 
not avoid being affected by far-reaching policy decisions aimed principally 
at missiles. The progression was principally in financial austerity. In 
December 1946, the guided missile budget for fiscal year 194? (then half- 
way to completion} was reduced from 329 million to about 313 million. In 
consequence II of the 28 surviving missile projects had to be eliminated. 
The 17 remaining projects decreased to a total of 12 in May 1947— and 
shortly thereafter to 8 programs. The residuals did not include the 
Consolidated- Vultee long-range ballistic missile project. Apart from the 
ill-defined requirement for a rocket- boosted, ramjet-cruise missile {eventu- 
ally the Navaho}, no "big rocket" programs remained in the "funded" cate- 
gory. Nor was this situation transitory; not until 1950 did funds appear to 
support the resumption of "big rocket" work, and even then the program was 
restricted to research and general design activity, 

Thus proposals for an active development program leading toward a 
specific satellite launching failed of approval. Indeed, it may safely be 
said that such proposals did not even receive serious consideration. The 
advisory committees which controlled the decision process were themselves 
dominated by individuals who considered ballistic missiles and satellites to 
be inconceivable for practical use in the decades immediately ahead. The 
uncertain state of technology obvit^^»as.ano,tha| factor, although engineers 
and scientists who studied the spaXnjg|£j[ig2jjg££&£^5kls had no doubt of the 



nation's ability to overcome whatever technological obstacles there were. 
The urgent need of the late 1940 1 « to modernize the military and naval 
machine that had won the war did much to direct attention toward new but 
"relatively conventional weapons rather than missiles and related devices that 
seemed far in the future. Moreover, in the financial climate of the late 
1940's, before the Soviets had demonstrated their ability to construct a 
nuclear bomb and before the onset of the Korean affair, an economy move 
was inevitable. The Department of Defense as a whole suffered cutbacks 
in operational forces as well as research and development — although in 
proportion the impact was undoubtedly greater for the latter. In 1947 the 
Air Force lost its only ballistic missile program {the Navy retained the 
Viking project and the Army continued working toward the Redstone) and 
Air Force rocket research barely limped along on a slender thread of 
financial support derived from booster rocket requirements. Nevertheless, 
the flavor of subtle irresponsibility that missile and space programs acquired 
through the actions of the major advisory committees probably was at least 
as important as any other single factor in halting moves to begin development. 

In the meantime, the Army Air Forces, with the approval of the 
Aeronautical Board (and later of the Joint Research and Development Board) 
continued to support study efforts in the regime of space operations. On 
] February 1947, RAND forwarded a multi-volume expansion of earlier 
satellite work which contained detailed analyses of satellites in general and 
specialized aspects of the space vehicle in particular. 

For six months, the new submissions had no discernible effects. Then 
on 18 September, the United States Air Force offically came into being. 
Precisely one week later, on 25 September, Air Force headquarters asked 
'he materiel command's Engineering Division to study and evaluate the RAND 
. satellite reports of the previous February from the standpoints of technical 
and operational feasibility. 

The Engineering Division response left Wright Field on_8 December 1947. 
In the interval between the submission of the RAND studies (February 1947) 
and the completion of the EngineeriiAy^wioji^aJiaiysis of thosp studies, a 
cal events had affectfeJ^CJiu^ftuatlon. Probably most 


important was the continuing*decline in the level of missile program funding 
and, fcr that matter, in the total of research and development funds. The 
fact that a considerable quantity of air staff time was consumed in .the pro- 
cess of obtaining approval for an independent Air Force (summer 1947) 
undoubtedly influenced the handling of sensitive topics like the satellite. 
Additionally, the control of Congress had passed from the administration to 
the opposition party, which set about eliminating residual wartime controls, 
reducing taxes in general, and markedly limiting federal expenditures. The 
general expectation of spokesmen on the new defense establishment was that 
"unification" would promptly eliminate redundant projects ana programs in 
the three services with a consequent reduction in the cost of national defense. 
The new defense department was in itself expected to institute immediate 
reforms which would promptly lower departmental budget requirements. In 
total, therefore, the prospects for approval of radically new and probably 
expensive development programs of unproven military worth were no brighter 
in December than in February, even though the inhibitions of operation under 
restrictive policies based on extreme scientific conservatism tended to dis- 
appear with the establishment of an autonomous Air Force. 

t that ths Engineering Division response to 
General Spaatz was composed- As a beginning, the division certified the 
technical feasibility of both development and operation of "a satisfactory 
satellite vehicle. " However, the chief of the division wrote, "Insufficient 
data is available at this time to determine whether the complexity and cost 
will in time permit practical utilization of such a vehicle. " Conceding that 
"an appropriate development program" could solve apparent technical diffi- 
culties, the Engin: :ring Division nevertheless had serious misgivings about 
the feasibility of funding the necessary program at an appropriate level. The 
temporizing solution, then, was to recommend establishment of a satellite 
project, but to limit its scope to the preparation of specifications and the 
collection of information on requirements ("time, manpower and money"), 
function ("what useful purposes could be served by the construction and 
operation of a satellite vehicle"), and scheduling ("the optimum time to 
begin actual construction of a cbmptMy^'afeKite-as'miposed to component 


development"). The key phrases came late in the comment letter: "It is 
i urgent need of developing guided missiles and 
allied equipments already called for fay military characteristics and that 
scarce nine's and limited component scientific talent must first be used in 
this field. " 23 

The Air Force deputy chief of staff for materiel, Lieutenant General 
H - A . Craig, decided that although the financial obstacles to full satellite 
development program were formidable, the time had come to take a stand 
on the general issue. His conclusion was that "the passage of time, with 
accompanying technical progress, will gradually bring the cost of such a 
vehicle within feasible bounds. " He therefore advised the vice chief of staff, H. S. Vandenberg, that the proper course was to incorporate the 
i-nix of the Engineering Division recommendations in a formal Air Force 
:*.Iicy statement. General Craig said, in so many words, that the satellite 
. i.ti;<: and probably should be built, but that at the moment the Air Force 
.-.. : < in no position to finance the undertaking. 

If the February 1946 decision to have RAND analyze satellite feasibility 
.'■■!.- thi' first turning point in the evolution of an Air Force space program, 
G.-:;.TfeJ Vandenberg's January 1948 policy statement was the second. Signed 
--:. It January and communicated to the Engineering Division one day later, 
.* :::■.: iA i crally but nonetheless effectively constituted the first clear state- 
;- • ;.: i>i space program interest by any service: 

The USAF, b.s the service dealing primarily with air weapons-- 
<.-=:)(.-cially strategic — has logical responsibility for the satellite. 

Research and Development will be pursued as rapidly as progress 
": the guided missiles art justifies and requirements dictate. To this 
vr.d, the program will be continually studied with a view to keeping an 
<o::mum design abreast of the art, to determine the military worth of 
. ::u- *ehicle--considering its utility and probable cost—to insure develop- 
r.u-r.t in critical components, if indicated, and to recommend initiation 
• : tt;e development phases of the project at the proper time, 

::. :or war ding that policy to the Engineering Division, the Air Force 
■••-■• : r of research and development authorized the "Wright Field agency to 

put is into effect "by action under the RAND contract, r General Crawford, * 
at Wright Field, thereupon instructed RAND to establish a satellite project 
with the objective of furthering the development of vital components^and 
techniques needed "for the eventual construction and operation of a satellite 
vehicle. " The remainder of his instructions paralleled the Engineering 
Division recommendation of 8 December. RAND received specific authori- 
zation to let research and study sub- contracts, though "subject to the 
approval of the Air Materiel Command and availability of funds. " 

One of the most discouraging elements of the correspondence was 
common both to the original Engineering Division comments of December 
and to the Crawford letter to SAND, in February. It was contained in the 
injunction that RAND should advise the Air Force "on request or at appro- 
priate intervals" on the question of "what purpose could be served by the 
construction and operation of a satellite vehicle. " It was obvious, quite 
apart from the matter of funding competition between long range programs 
and the immediate needs of the Air Force, that higher echelons had no firm 
conviction of the military worth of satellite proposals. Incredulity that the 
space age—or even the missile age--was actually dawning typified reaction 
to both ballistic missile and satellite proposals. The immediate effect of 
the Vandenberg dictum, then, was little more than to encourage the contin- 
uation of RAND- conducted studies of a future satellite and its prospective 
uses. For the next three years, the critical problem of the air staff— and 
of the materiel people at lower echelons — was to shelter a minimum research 
and development effort from the consequences of fund limitations that threat- 
ened not merely the "fantastic" elements of the program, but actually such 
"bread and butter" projects as were involved in the first generation of turbo- 
jet-propelled strategic bombers and interceptors. 

Chief, Engineering Division v .*P^fteriel CAntJiand, recently promoted 
to major general. VBS&J^**'*"**'^ 

gEH-2 I 


*>fi Jijj 





The War Reports of Gen e ral G eo r g e C. Ma rs h a ll, General H. H. A rnold, 
3_5miral Ernest J ." King (New ToTRT^ipincott, _9~4?), 452-456. 

Memo, Ch, BuAer to JRDB, subj: Earth Satellite Vehicles, 24 Jan 1947, 
cited in H L Bowen 1 s unpublished mss on the evolution of space research 
policy, in Hq USAF Hist Liaison Ofc files; see also H L Bowen, 
Threshold of Space, USAF Hist Div monograph, Sep I960; brief mention 
is found in the Dec 1954 chronology "Project 1115 Background, n appar- 
ently based on WADC corresp files, cy in SSD Hist Div files: ARS/WS 
1171, thru 1955; confirming details, and the quotation from the memo 
following the 7 Mar 1946 mtg, are contained in D Pearson and J 
J Anderson articles in Los Angeles Mirror, 28 Apr 1961, and in the 
Pearson and Anderson book: U. S.A-, Second Class Power? Although 
Pearson's contributions to history frequently manage to warp the facts 
rather thoroughly, it is apparent that m this irstance he had unofficial 
access to certain Navy Department documents. It goes without saying 
that the Pearson version has both a hero (BuAer) and villains {LeMay 
and MajGen L C Creigie). For this narrative, the Pearson account has 
been accepted to the extent of considering his direct quotations and his 
citations of names, dates, and specific items to be correct if supported 
by other reliable sources. t 

The precise source of the quotation is unknown. It was given to the 
present author in 1954 by a Pentagon returnee who had first removed 
the signature lines. The section quoted is relatively innocuous; other 
paragraphs contain rather harsh comments on flight pay, the Navy's 
carrier program, and Air Force "complacency" concerning missiles, 
fciformation on the Spaatz recollections was drawn from Itr, H L Bowen, 
Hq USAF Hist LiaisonOfc, to W D Putnam, SSD Hist Div, subj: Review 
of Manuscript, 13" Jun 1962, which nates that A L Goldberg of the Hist 
Liaison Ofc had asked Spaatz about the incident. Bowen, who has studied 
the era more intensively than any other researcher, believed that Spaatz 
made the subsequent decisions, a judgement in which the present author 
concurrs. In the absence of conclusive evidence, however, the matter 
must be considered uncertain. _ _____ _ 

Memo, Ch, BuAer to JRDB, 24 Jan 1947; Bowen mss; "Project 1115 1 

Background, " Dec 1954; Douglas Aire Co Rpt SM-11827, see note below; I 
Itr, Bowen to Putnam, 18 June 19.6?.. 

At some point over the later years, most copies of the original report 
received "Project RAND" covers, although the original was Douglas Aire 
Co Rpt No SM-11827, "Preliminary Design of an Experimental World- 
Circling Spaceship," Contract W33-038 ac-14105, 2 May 1946 (in SSD 

Hist Div Files); the subsequent summary report was Project RAND 




First Quarterly Rpt, App II, "World- Circling Space Ship," RA- 15001, 
Jun 1946. They are hereafter cited by their report number*. Both 
reports became rarities of a sort, going out of print in relatively ghort 
order. The May report, assembled »o hurriedly at Gen LeMay's 
insistence, was reproduced and circulated in ozlid, so great was the 
rush and so slight the time for final polishing. It is interesting that in 
all of the testimony taken following the first two Sputnik successes and 
the several United States space flight failures, there was not a single 
public reiereoce to the RAND studies of early 1946. 

6. RA-15001, Jun 1946- 

7. SM-U827, 2 May '1946, p 9, 

S. Hearings Before the Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee of the 
Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, 85th Cong, 1st and 
2nd Sess (Farts I and H): "Inquiry into Satellite and Missile Programs" 
(hereafter cited as Johnson Committee hearings ); Hearings Before the 
Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration, 85th Cong, 
2nd Sess, on H. R. 11881 {hereafter cited as Stennis hearings) ; partic- 
ularly testimony by Undersecy of Def D A Quarles, Johnson Committed 
hearings, p 305. . . 

9- SM-11827, 2 May 1946, pp. 10-16- 

10. 3owenmss. 

* * ■ Johnson Commit tee hearings , Dr John Hagan (Dir, Vanguard Proj} 
testimony, 26 Nov 1957; Stennis hearings, MajGen B A Schriever 
(Cmdr AFBMD) testimony, 24 Apr 1958; Staff Rpt of the Select 
Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration, 85th Cong, 2nd Sess, 
"The International Geophysical Year *nd Sf-ace Research, " 22 Dec 1958. 

12. SM 11827, 2 May 1946, p I- 

13. Memo, W S Symington, Asst Secy War for Air, to LtGen I C Eaker, Vice 
ChAir Staff, 13 May 1946; memo, Col T A Sims, Air Staff, to 

LtGen I C Eaker, 14 May 1946; both in History of the Development of 
Guided Missiles , 1946-1950, AMC Hiat~CfclM R Self), Dec 1951, I, 
128; the Droposil itself, called "Shooting the Moon, " is described in 
RAND Rpt BA 15000, June 1946, p 8. Designed by Djr Luis Alvarez, a 
RAND consultant, it was considered "relatively simple and 
inestpensive, , ." 

14. Memo, R/Amd Stevens, Chm R and D Comm, Aero Bd, to Aero Bd, subj: 
Case No 244 - High Altitude Earth Satellite, 15 May 1946, cited in Bowen 
mss; Bowen interviews with Pentagon staff. 




Memo, Ch BuAer to JRDB, subj: Earth Satellite Vehicle, 24 Jan 1947, 
with Incl A: Ad Hoc Panel on Astronautics, and Incl B: Preliminary 
Statement of Problem for Ad Hoc Panel, cited in Bowen 

Memo, F, H. Richardson, Admin Secy to JRDB, to Exec Dir, GM 
Comm. subj: Earth Satellite.7 Feb 1947; memo, LtGen H S Vandenberg, 
St Army Mbr of Aero Bd, to JRDB, subj: Satellite Agency, 13 Jun 1947; 
Memo, R and D Comm, Aero Bd, to Aero Bd for transmission to JRDB, 
subj: High Altitude Earth Satellite Test Vehicle, 13 Jun 1947; Memo, 
JRDB to Aero Bd, subj: Earth Satellite Vehicle, 9 Jan 1948; all cited 

Vanevar Bush, Modern A rms and Fr ee Men (New York, Simon and 
Schuster), 1949, pp 84-86. Bush contributed other absurdities in a 
volume that had enormous circulation through the nation's leading book 
club and obviously influenced the research and development climate of 
the Pentagon. In a single volume he demonstrated the perils of prophecy 
by an ill-informed amateur whose viewpoint proved to be considerably 
more limited than that of the " parochial military experts" upon whom he 
heaped scorn. Perhaps the best illustration of his unbelievable lack of 
foresight was his prediction that "years of effort" lay ahead of any 
foreign power attempting to develop an atomic bomb- Between the time 
he wrote that unfortunate paragraph and the time his book was circulated, 
the Russians had exploded their first nuclear weap;n! 

RAdm J T Hayward, Asst Ch Naval Ops(R and D), testifying before 
Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration, 85th Cong, 2nd 
Session, 18 Apr 1958, in Hearings Before the Select Committee. . . , on 
H. R. 11881; draft article for NavaTT5 IHrute" Ptoc5=c:ng:3 Magazine, 
prep by Capt C W Steyer Jr. et al, cited "in "Bowen ejss. 

Remarks by Sen W S Symington, 16 Jan 1958, during Johnson Committee 
hearings {p 1876). 

Ltr, LtGen N R Twining, CG, AMC, to CG, AAF, 25 Mar 1947; ltr, 
MajGen B W Chidlaw, DCG, AMC (Engl, to CG AAF, 6 May 1947; memo 
BrigGen T S Power.Dep Asst Ch, Air Staff (-3), to CG AAF, 16 Jun 1947; 
all reproduced as docs in Vol II, History of the Deveiooment of Guided 
Missiles 1946-1950, AMC Hist Ofc (M R STlf|7 Dec 1951; seeTlslTVoTl 
of the Self Hist pp 38-46. 

Ltr, BrigGen A R Crawford, Ch, Eng Div, AMC, to C/S USAF, subj: I 
Project RAND, Satellite Vehicle, 8 Dec 1947, in SSD Hist Div files: 
Feedback Project. | 


Mm * 

Ltr, MajGen L C Craigie, Dir/R and D, DCS/Mat, USAF, to 
BrigGen A R Crawford, Ch, Eng Div, AMC, subj: Satellite Vehicles, 

16 Jan 1948, with policy stmt of 15 Jan 1948: "Statement of Policy for 
a Satellite Vehicle, " signed by Gen h S Vandenberg, Vice C/S, USAF, 
in SSD Hist Div files; Bowen mss. 

Ltr, Craigie to Crawford, 16 Jan 1948; ltr, MajGen A R Crawford, Ch, 
Eng Div, AMC, to Douglas Aire Co (RAND), subj; Satellite Project, 

17 Feb 1948, in SSD Hist Div files. 


The character of the space effort of the late 1940's, in all the i 
was best described by a section in the firBt annual report of the new defense 
department, issued at the close of 1948: 

The Earth Satellite Vehicle Program, which was being carried out 
independently by each military service, was assigned to the Committee 
on Guided Missiles f of the Research and Development Board] for coordi- 
nation. To provide an integrated program with resultant elimination of 
duplication, the committee recommended that current efforts in this field 
be limited to studies aua component designs; well-defined areas of such 
research have been allocated to each of the three military departments. 

The limitation "to studies and component designs" was particularly galling 
to the Air Force. In December 1947, in the letter which had ultimately led 
to the Vandenberg policy statement, the Engineering Division had specifically 
recommended--on the basis of the earlier RAND studies—that a satellite 
project should be established and a start made on component development . In 
the minds of Air Force engineers and scientists there was no doubt of the 
feasibility of the RAND approach and of the satellite itself. The problem was 
essentially that other and more critical programs were suffering from 
monetary anemia, and in such an environment there was slight chance of 
obtaining funding support needed for an active space program. In an era of 
relative abundance, the Air Force might have been able to overcome the 
skepticism of the civilian scientists who advised the defense departmen. or 
ihe enthusiastic support of a group of recognised scientists might have served 
to loosen departmental purse strings. But in the absence of one or the other, 
r.oihing could be done. The key factor, it was early apparent, was the absence 
'-of a clearly recognizable military requirement. In so many words, the 
skeptics could ask "what can a satellite do that an airplane can not do? " The 
answer of the time was that the satellite could do many things" beyond the 
opacity of an airplane, but none sj^^f^^B fj^e^n^ demonstrable 

HMPiljpmnrn B^w SSEH » 2 

In point of fact, it was precisely toward a proof of military utility that the 
Air Force had begun moving in 1947, Although disappointed in the fact that no 
specific development program had been approved, the Air Force was making 
reasonably steady progress through the studies to which it was essentially 
limited. The basic feasibility of satellites, from the standpoint of rocket 
performance, had been examined and accepted. By virtue of the 1946 and 1947 
studies (and the subsequent Engineering Division analysis of their findings), 
engineers and scientists had gained assurance that a useful rocket vehicle to 
launch a satellite could be developed with but minor and entirely attainable 
advances over existing technology. Second, they had decided that the payioad 
would have to be relatively slight — probably less than 2,000 pounds — until 
better rockets were available. Third, it was apparent that a recoverable 
vehicle would be a complication of the basic problem. 

With this indication that a payioad would be restricted to instrumentation 
and communicationB equipment, the question became one of what equipment, 
and with what utility. Between 1947 and 1951, RAND devoted considerable 
effort to an analysis of military usefnlnessf ; 


In those same years, the Air Force continued its tenuous progress 
toward acquiring authority to conduct a development program as opposed to a 
study effort. The subdued controversy between Navy and Air Force interests 
had flared into an open conflict in December 1947, when the Navy formally 
submitted to the Research and Development Board a claim for exclusive 
possession of rights to satellite development. After several weeks of acri- 
mony, the Navy on 16 January 1948 (the day after the Vandenberg "position 
paper" on Air Force space interests) withdrew its claim, and the two services 
again set 'about their separate approaches. For the Air Force, all tha rould 
immediately mean was continuation of the RAND work. In February 1948 
Air Force headquarters, through the Engineering Division, had asked RAND 

to undertake further detailed studies, and shortly thereafter obtained the 

concurrence of Research and Development Board in that approach. 


— . —J%^*i 


,1 i inL 


For practical purposes, the Navy discontinued satellite studies at that 
point. Under contract to the Navy, the Glenn L. Martin Company had been 
doing work similar to that of RAND since early 1946. The Martin efforts had 
resulted in a proposal for a 1,450-pound satellite that, said the researchers, 
could be orbited in the near future. (Much later, in the aftermath of the Sput- 
nik affair, the then-presiuent of the Martin Company told a group of reporters 
that the Navy-Martin program could have put a satellite into orbit "before the 
Korean War.") 5 

Army ordnance was in roughly the same situation, a group at White Sands 

proving Ground having designed a space flight experiment in the fall of 1947. 

By virtue of a general agreement with the Research and Development Board, 

however, the Air Force became the only service authorized to expend defense 

department funds on studies of satellite vehicles. The Air Force assigned the 

work to RAND under its regular contract, and the Research and Development 

Board subsequently (mid- 1948) confirmed that RAND was solely responsible 

for such studies. 

In November 1950, RAND submitted definitive recommendations to 
Air F_or_ce. headquarters covering extension of research into specific aspects 
of the reconnaissance mission for satellites. [ Major General D. L.. Putt, 
Air Force director of research and development, endorsed the proposal and 
saw that it received necessary support. Its product was a pair of brief reports 
submitted in April 1951 — reports which for the first time categorically and in 
considerable detail stated the engineering feasibility of a military-purpose 

In the most important of the April 1951 studies, RAND reported that 1 

"pioneer reconnaissance (general location and determination of appropriate ; 
targets) and weather reconnaissance are suitable with the resolving power '. 

presently available to a satellite television system." In the interval between 
194? and 1951, of course, it was precisely that sort of intelligence which had 
become vitally important to the Air Force; the obvious prospective foe was the 
Soviet Union, its vast spaces and totalitarian political structure giving it 
relative security from conventional intelligence approaches. Moreover, in 
that interval the Soviet Union had demonstrated a largely unsuspected j 

scientific competence by detonating atomi 
anticipated that event, the Soviet sphere t 
whole of continental China, and for thefir 
had attempted armed assault on a borderi 

: weapons years before experts 
f influence had extended over the 
it time since 1939 the Soviet world 
ig state- -the Republic of Korea. 

In the case of robot reconnaissance, the researchers considered the • 

basic problems involved in developing, assembling, launching, operating and ' 
profiting from the device. The analysis certainly was more comprehensive ' 
than anything previously attempted. And the conclusions were quite 
encouraging, though not markedly different from those of 1946: 

The various components constituting a satellite vehicle to be 
utilized for reconnaissance . . . [are] individually feasible to various 
degrees. To combine these parts into a reliable operating whole will 
require considerable basic scientific and engineering effort. No radically 
new developments are indicated, however; rather, a reconstitution of 
known theory and art in rocketry, electronics, engines, and nuclear 

Specifically, the researchers concluded that a two- stage rocket (as 
opposed to the three- or four-stage vehicle originally considered in 1946) 
weighing about 74,000 pounds and carrying a 1,000-pound payload could satis- 
factorily conduct general reconnaissance, resolving objects with a maximum 
dimension of ZOO feet. Reliability—largely a matter of refining electronic 
components--would generally determine the duration of useful activity. With 
imorovements in television components to a stage then attained under labora- 
i.../ conditions, it seemed entirely possible to reduce the resolvable dimen- 
sion requirement to 100 feet while still providing continuous coverage from a 
single satellite on a basis of every target surveyed every other day. A further 
improvement (to a resolvable dimension of 40 feet) would theoretically permit 
virtually all military reconnaissance to be performed by satellite. Obvi- 
ously, useful weather information could be obtained by even less demanding r 

:ifically, individual consideration was devoted to (1) orbits and ground 
;rage, (2) the problems of television reconnaissance, (3) attitude con- 
in the orbiting vehicle, (4) requirements of an auxiliary powerplant 
(5) an analysis of the anticipated reliability of the system. The basic 
tirements of the launch vehicle received separate consideration. 


JOB ^"^ 

teC hniques; resolution on the order of 500-foot dimensions probably would 
prove entirely adequate. On the basis of sketchy experience with interpreta- 
tion of weather trends from photographs taken from probe rockets, weather 
prediction also seemed feasible. 

As was Sometime s^ione for particularly significant or potentially sensi- I 
tive subjects, RAND both preceded and followed the formal published studies j 
and reports by presenting data to specialized groups, particularly at Wright 
Field and in the Pentagon. Among a great many experts who had been ; 

desperately puzzling with the reconnaissance problem, there resulted con- 
siderable enthusiasm for RAND's findings. The Research and Development 1 
Board, which had only recently rejected another Navy proposal for a small- 
package scientific satellite, fully sanctioned further studies. In the wake of 
the 1951 studies, the Air Force authorized RAND to make specific recom- 
mendations for the start of development work in the reconnaissance satellite 

■ 13 
program--then called Project FeedJElackj,- __^ 

Submission and consideration of the April 1951 RAND studies coincided, 
quite by accident, with the activation of an autonomous Air Research and 
Development Command and with increased stature for the recently created 
headquarters Air Force staff agency, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Development. 
Both organizations were guided by officers who were firmly convinced that 
far too much emphasis had been placed on procurement and production aspects 
of t; r- materiel function in postwar years. They proposed to re-emphasize 
the iese.arch and development aspects of the Air Force mission, and they 
promptly set about their task. 

The lower-echelon organizations, principally the Air Materiel Command's 
Engineering Division, had for the most part been entirely sympathetic to 
"advanced ideas" but had achieved no notable success in securing their 
acceptance at higher levels. Competition between proposals for radically 
new techniques and requirements for improved weapons to employ in the 
immediate future (the Korean affair was then in full flower) tended to 
decrease the effectiveness of the Engineering Division, nonetheless. 

mil/- ■ 


"Swift- T 

By November 1951. the Air Force had arranged for the Atomic Energy 
Commission to begin work on small reactors suitable for use as power sources 
in satellite vehicles. RAND planned to subcontract major portions of the next 
phase of basic research, starting with the study of an orbital sensing and con- 
trol subsystem (subcontracted to North American Aviation in March 1952). 
By June of that year, preliminary results of the reactor analyses were avail- 
able; all were favorable to the feasibility of the proposal..._.A_contract between 
RAND and the Radio Corporation of America followed, in mid-June; the 
electronics firm was to study optical systems, television cameras, radiation, 
recording devices, presentation techniques, and reliability aspects of a i 

ice subsystem for a satellite/ Concurrently the" Co 

and Navigation Laboratory at Wright Air Development Center contracted with 
North American Aviation for a study of a pre-orbital guidance system for a 
.satellite (July 1953). 

Most of this work was financed under a special supplement to the existing 
contract with RAND, effective for fiscal year 1953 and specifically designed 
to support the satellite research. The Atomic Energy Commission acceded to 
an Air Force proposal that it fund the study aspects of the reactor work, at 
least to the point of proving theoretical feasibility. 

In the first two years following the establishment of an autonomous 
Air Research and Development Command) a minor difference of opinion 
involving RAND and the new organization occurred. The command decided 
early in its existence that the Air Force rather than the corporation should 
have management responsibility for the several subcontract studies being 
monitored by RAND. Nothing came of the proposal initially, and RAND con- 
tinued to control study efforts ("the research phase") under the philosophy of 
turning the work over to the Air Force "as soon as development work can be 
started. " 

In May 1953, this process went one step farther. Air Force headquarters 
first directed the research and development command to investigate the 
feasibility of starting development work on an auxiliary nuclear power plant 
for the satellite, and then added instructions that the agency was to begin 
"active direction" of the entire Feed Back program by 1 June. One of the 




.: L -"^W/M( 

prime motives was the obvious fact that the reconnaissance satellite program 
had to be carefully integrated with the recently re-activated Atlas ballistic 
missile effort. Staff planners clearly foresaw that Atlas was the logical boost 
vehicle for the satellite.j (At the time, the Air Force was also~specifying 
reconnaissance versions of its major development systems, including Snark 
and Matador missiles. The reconnaissance package seemed to offer potential 
ice payload for the Atlas. J 

Air Research and Development Command representatives who began ~ 
arranging a transfer of custody emerged from their initial contact with the 
RAND group in a state of high enthusiasm. Lieutenant Colonel V. L. Genez 
returned from his initial visit to the RAND satellite office with the firm 
conviction that an immediate-effort should be made to orbit a satellite, 
regardless of the availability of the reconnaissance subsystem. He considered 
the psychological advantages of such a program to far outweighany disability 
arising' from limited operational utility 1 .: One month later, in September 1953, 
RAND itself flatly recommended letting a system design contract within a year 
and proceeding to a full system development program "perhaps immediately 
following the completion of experimental component tests." 

Endorsement of the RAND recommendation by the research command 
headquarters and preliminary steps toward the start of component develop- 
ment marked the closing months of 1953. Although there were objections to 
the f,- oposed acceleration of work (notably from the command's atomic energy 
program manager, who felt that at least another nine months of study should 
be devoted to the auxiliary power source before development began}, the 
threads gra dually began^to draw together once more. 

At that point, the Air Research and Development Command decided to 
pull together the proliferating aspects of the satellite work into a single 
project, thus making its unified management more feasible. Tentatively 
identified as Project 409-40, "Satellite Component Study," the program was 
also given unofficial possession of a system number (Weapon System 117 L) 
to cover the ultimate system development effort. On 3 December 1953, the 
program received new direction; headquarters of the Air Research and 
Development Command ordered Wright Air Development Center to redocument 



the effort under newly adopted management procedures (80-4) andto-di-r-ect_^ 
activity toward a demonstration of the feasibility of major satellite compo- 
nents. The television-optical reconnaissance subsystem, attitude and 
guidance control equipment, and the auxiliary jow er p lant were specific goals. 
By the end of the year, the entire satellite " program" had made a semi=— — 
official transition from a planning project to a proposed system. Given a new 
project number, it was transferred to the custody of the Bombardment 

Missiles Branch in Wright Air Development Center's systems management 

. t . 17 

In January 1954, while RAND was in the final stages" of preparing a 
summary report on Project Feed Back, Project 1115 acquired the unclassified 
title "Advanced Reconnaissance System" and an MX (engineering project) 
number: MX-2226. Apart from the fact that the new names and codes were 
rather more prosaic than the "Feed Back" nomenclature earlier used, their 
adoption served to distinguish the proposed Air Force program from the 
RAND studies, which were rather well known throughout the services. How- 
ever, the several items of code numbering, system number, and project 
number had not yet received confirmation or approval from Air Force 
headquarters. Although the work was progressing, it still lacked the 
authorization required for a fully effective program. Such authorization 
was to come in the trail of the long-awaited summary report from RAND on 
Project Feed Back- 
Refinement of engineering data, intensive investigations of individual 
aspects of the reconnaissance satellite proposal, and highly detailed analysis 
of technical, fiscal and political (international) requirements and 
repercussions were complete by early 1954. Over a period of more than two 
years, RAND had subcontracted studies to a variety of highly qualified 
research and industry groups. Several hundred scientists and engineers had 
a part in the contributory studies and in the final report. In consequence, 
that report (dated 1 March 1954) contained the validated findings of some of 
the most highly regarded individuals and organizations in the nation. On the 
basis of such work, RAND specifically recommended that the Air Force 
undertake "the earliest possible completion and use of an efficient satellite 





reconnaissance vehicle" as a matter of "vital strategic interest to the 
United States." Additionally, RAND urged that the satellite project be 
"considered and planned" at a high policy level and that it be conducted under 
elaborate secrecy wraps to prevent dangerous international repercussions. 
On such a basis, it seemed possible to RAND that the development ?nd initial 
operation of the satellite could be completed in about seven years and at a 
total cost "on the order of Sl65 million"-~although the researchers cautioned 
that uncertainties inherent in the prediction of development trends might 
double or treble that cost. (RAND also remarked, with considerable fore- 
sight, that "it may be possible to attain the end goal of the progranj from one 
to two years earlier at a considerable increase in cost.") 

There was an element of finality to the concluding paragraph of the 

RAND has been working on the satellite vehicle for 8 years. During 
thi's period the metamorphosis from a feasibility concept to a useful 
reconnaissance purpose has occurred. Cognizance is now being turned 
over to the Air Force with the recommendation that the program be 
continued on a full-scale basis. 


"- m 


1. Rpt, National Military Establishment, "First Report of the Secretary of 
Defense, 1948" (29 Dec), p 129. 

2. Ltr, BrigGen A R Crawford, Ch, Eng Div, AMC, to DCS/ Mat, USAF, 
Subj: Project RAND Satellite Vehicle, 8 Dec 1947 

3. RAND Rpt 1^217, Utility of a Satellite Vehicle for Reconnaissano 
Apr 1951, p 1. I 

4. Project 1115 Background, Dec 1954. ! 

5. Ibid; Denver Post , 25 Sep 1959. 

6. Washington Star interview of Dr. H.A. Zahl, Res Div, Sig Corps 
US Army, 27 Oct I960. 

7. Memo, C G Habley, Dayton rep, RAND, to J E Lipp, Missiles Div, ' 
RAND, subj: Feed Back History, 28 May 1952, cy in SSD His Div File: 
ARS/WS 117L thru 1955. 

8. Ibid; RAND Rpt R-217, Apr 1951; RAND Rpt R-218, Inquiry into the 
Feasibility of Weather Reconnaissance from a Satellite Vehicle , Apr 1951. 

9. RAND Rpt R-217, Apr 1951, p 80. 

10. Ibid. 

11. RAND Rpt R-218, Apr 1951. 

12. The author attended a Project Feed Back briefing at Wright Field early 
in 1952 and clearly recalled, 10 years later, the general excitement that 
gripped the audience during much of the presentation. The animated 
discussion that followed was marked by a complete absence of "it can't 
be done" sentiment and by free expressions of hope for the success of the 
RAND program during later presentations at the decision level in Air 
Force headquarters. 

13. Memo, Col J A Dunning, AsstCh, War Plans Div, Dir/Plans, to 
Dir/Plans, DCS/Plans and Prog; USAF, subj: USAF Satellite Program, 
28 Oct 1957, cited in Bowen mss. 

SERE-! 1 ,- t 


j4. History of the Ai r Resea rch and Development Command , 1 July- 
31 Decembe r 1955, pp 349-353, including citations of: Uf, 
F. R. Collbohn, RAND Corp, to MajGen D N Yates, Dir R and D, 
DCS/D, USAF, 10 Feb 1953; ltr, MajGen D N Yates, Dir R and D, 
DCS/D, USAF, to CG, ARDC, subj: Project FEEDBACK, 22 May 1953, 
andlstlnd, ColJ D Kay, Dir/Intel, Dep/Dev, ARDC, to Gen Yates, 
12 Jun 1953. 

15. Memo "For the Record, " prep by LtCol V M Gensz, Dir/Intel, Dep/Dev, 
ARDC, subj: Conference with RAND Corporation re FEEDBACK Pro- 
gram, 13 Aug 1953; ltr, J E Lipp, RAND, to CG ARDC, subj: Interim 
Recommendations for Project FEEDBACK, 8 Sep 1953, cited in History 
of ARDC Jnl-Dec 1955 , p 359g. 

16. DF, BrigGen D J Kiern, Asst for ANP, to Asst for Weap Sys, ARDC, 
subj; Phase II Investigations of Nuclear Auxiliary Power Plant in 
Feedback Project, 3 Nov 53; Status Rpt, Proj Feedback, prep by LtCol 
V M Genez, 14 Dec 1953; History of ARDC, Jul-Dec 1955 , p 356. 

17. Memo, Habley to Lipp, 28 May 1952; "Project 1115 Background, " 
Dec 1954. 

IS. "Project 1115 Background, " Dec 1954; Bowen mss. 

20. Ibid, vii; appreciation of the enormous amount of data contained i 
March 1954 study can only be gained by reading it. (It is well wo 
the time: RLP) 



A combination of circumstance* had contributed to the new course of 
space-program activity. One of the key element* certainly was the emergence 
of £ group of scientific advisors who both appreciated the gravity of the 
Soviet threat and seemed willing to consider "unconventional" approaches 
to the United States response. Oddly enough, it was a new "economy drive" 
in the defense department that provided the final impetus, Determined that 
defense expenditures could and should be reduced, the department created a 
Guided Missiles Study Group (under its Armed Forces Policy Council) to 
recommend means for cutting the cost of the missile program. {Secretary of 
Defense Charles E. Wilson in his 16 June 1953 directive creating the review 
committee specified that "a continuous effort should be made to standardize 
on one missile for production and use by all military departments, wherever, 
within the employment limitations of each type of missile, standardisation 
appears to be practicable. "} The original group encountered evidence of a 
significant change in the status of the long-delayed intercontinental ballistic 
missile program, created a special subcommittee (Strategic Missile Evalua- 
tion Committee) to delve more deeply into the subject, and passed on to other 
topics. Under the leadership of Professor John von Neumann, the Strategic 
Missile Evaluation Committee reviewed the Status of the rocket missile 
program and concluded that new warhead developments plus advances in 
rocket technology made an intercontinental missile immediately feasible. 
That conclusion, and a series of implementation recommendations, reached 
Trevor Gardner, Air Force Assistant Secretary for Research and Development, 
in the first quarter of 1954. Enthused about the potential of the proposal, 
Gardner and von Neumann secured the active support of the Air Force chief 
of staff. General N- F. Twining, and Secretary of the Air Force Harold £. 
Talbott. Together, they succeeded in obtaining funds and directives needed 


t0 start work. By July, a field organization had been created, a supporting 
contractor engaged, and the broad outlines of a massive ballistic missile 
development program sketched in. 

The creation of a substantial ballistic missile program in the Air Force 
had significance far beyond immediate consequences — though these were 
important enough. It meant, first, that the eight-year struggle to obtain 
acknowledgement of the feasibility of long range rockets had been won. The 
Bush thesis had finally succumbed to the von Neumann thesis. Second, it 
implied the availability, in the foreseeable future, of rocket vehicles 
sufficiently powerful to thrust a satellite into orbit. Finally, by confirming 
that space-age weapons would shortly be operational, it testified to the need 
for developing a useful military competence in space; to a great many Air 
Force planners it seemed obvious that only a military space capability could 
provide an effective counterweight to an intercontinental ballistic missile 

In May 1954, concurrent with key decisions in the ballistic missile area, 
Air Force headquarters directed the Air Research and Development Command 
to assume responsibility for a study of the applications of RAND'S Feed Back 
concept- The research command promptly "documented" Project 1115 
obtaining final approval from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Coordi- 
nating Committee on Guided Missiles) in July. In August, Pentagon authori- 
zation to proceed with actual work reached the field command, and that 
: command set about issuing more comprehensive directives. The appearance 
of System Requirement Number 5 on 27 November 1954 signaled approval of 
a clearly defined effort to develop a reconnaissance satellite system, even 
though the general operational requirement (GOR No 80) did not emerge from 
Pentagon channels until 16 March of the following year. 

A number of presentations of the Feed Back proposal, largely as defined 
by RAND, marked the summer and early fall of 1954. Following the Air 
Research and Development Command's assumption of project responsibility 
in May, that command began a determined attempt to obtain approval for an 
expanded industry study effort. Among those who heard and in some degree 
endorsed the Feed Back approach were the acting chairman of the Scientific 
Advisory Board, J. A. Doolittle, the Air Force Chief of Staff , General 
N. F. Twining, and the heads of Strategic Air Command and the Air Research 

"""""— SECRET — : SSEIM 


and Development Command—Generals LeMay and Power. General LeMay 
v.'as quite responsive to the presentation, urging preparation of a formal 
Strategic Air Command requirements document covering the satellite, but other 
of the command's officials, notably in its operations analysis staff, urged the 
greater need for improved refueling techniques and manned bombers. General 
Putt, who immediately preceded Power as research and development command : , 
chief, strongly supported the satellite program—as did Power himself. 

While such presentations were being made at various levels, work began 
on a number of additional elements, or proposed elements, of the reconnaissance 
satellite: attitude guidance and control, a solar -electrical energy converter, 
intelligence processing methods, the auxiliary power plant, and the effects of 

nuclear radiation on electronic components. _ _ __ 

In October 1954, Trevor Gardner asked the "ICBM Scientific Advisory 
Group n {which included many of the earlier von Neumann committee) to 
consider the possible interaction of satellite proposals and other missile 
proposals of the moment with the intercontinental ballistic missile effort then 
rapidly unfolding. The committee decided that the review should be under- 
taken directly by the Air Force; it was ultimately completed by the Western 
Development Division and recommended, in effect, that be~cause~~of the 
necessity for coordinating the several large rocket -vehicle programs the 

reconnaissance satellite should be assigned to the Western Development 

Division for management. 

In that a system requirement generally called for the submission of data 
nt-wJed to prepare a formal development plan, while a general operational 
requirement specified objectives and time goals, the 16 March 1955 require- 
ments document issued by Air Force headquarters actually constituted the 
first full and formal statement of the reconnaissance satellite program. In 
many respects, as might have been anticipated, it paralleled the earlier 
RAND studies. It defined as the Air Force objective a means of providing 
continuous surveillance of "preselected areas of the earth" in order "to 
determine the status of a potential enemy's wafmaking capability." Intended 
for launch from fixed bases, the reconnaissance satellite was to provide 
daylight visual coverage in sufficient detail to permit identification of air- 
field runaways, and intercontinental missile launch stations. Additionally, 

s f H. 2 - r#ir\ 



' IB miAi 

an alternate ability fo collect electronic intelligence and to provide weather 
forcasting data was also specified. Although the "ultimate" required 
definition ( H . . . capability to detect objects no more than 20' on a side. . . ") 
was somewhat optimistic in terms of RAND's earlier findings, the required 
operational availability date (1965) seemed basically sound. 

Initial management of the project was assigned to Wright Air Development 
Center, the project officers being Lieutenant Colonel Q. A. Riepe and (after 
August 1955) Lieutenant Colonel W. G. King, Jr. By November 1955, 14 
basic "in house" technical tasks had been defined, approved, and assigned 
to project officers for control purposes. The Air Force had also contracted 
with Radio Corporation of America, Glenn L. Martin, and Lockheed Aircraft 
for design studies intended to establish more specifically the time and 
technology requirements of the undertaking. Industry investigations were 
conducted under the nickname "Pied Piper. " 

— As early as January 1955, the von Neumann group had decided that it 
would be possible — and preferable — to work initially on the satellite vehicle 
and its contents rather than on a total reconnaissance system which would 
include the booster elements. In this fashion, contended the committee, 
there would arise no need for interference with the ballistic missile program. 
The commander and vice commander of the Air Research and Development 
Command, Lieutenant General T. S. Power and Major General J- R- Sessums, 
agreed that this was their understanding of program objectives. 
■■■" ■■™" ^In'geTieTaTTerms, if was the wish of the Western Development Division 
and its commander, General Schriever, to devote their principal attention 
to the intercontinental ballistic missile. The introduction of non-germane 
tasks such as tactical- range ballistic missiles and satellites promised to 
interfere with the main assignment unless additional resources were con- 
currently provided. Nevertheless, it was early apparent than no serious 
military satellite program could be undertaken by the United States without 
imposing additional requirements on the ballistic missile development agency. 
Of the possible launch vehicles that would be available within the ysars of 
satellite development and test, only the Atlas- Thor-Titan family promised 
fully satisfactory thrust characteristics. While not specifically rejecting 
the notion that the WS U7L program might be assigned to the Western 

■ JU^iui^L ' " 

Development Division, those concerned tended to express hope that some 

alternative could be devised. In one of the early discussions of the 

reconnaissance satellite during a meeting of the "ICBM Scientific Advisory 

Committee" in June 1955, the group chiefly considered the topic in a context 

of "steps which could be taken to prevent the TBM [ Tactical Ballistic Missile] 

and Scientific Satellite programs from interfering with the ICBM 

[ Intercontinental Ballistic Missile] program. " After evaluating the question 

in some detail, the group decided on a course of action: 

. . . The committee unanimously agreed that any Satellite program, 
Scientific or Reconnaissance, which is dependent on componentB 
being developed under the ICBM program, would interfere with the 
earliest attainment of an ICBM operational capability and requested 
the Chairman to write a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force 
advising the Secretary of the Committee's concern in this matter. 

There was no question of lack of foresight in such a decision. The group 
was overwhelmingly concerned with keeping the infant ballistic missile 
program alive' and satisfying the critical need for an operational ballistic 
missile. There seemed slight prospect that the materiel and personnel 
resources then available to the Western Development Division could accommo- 
date a major satellite program without diluting the effectiveness of its 
missile effort; by the same token, in the climate of June 1955, the prospects 
for obtaining additional resources commensurate with the expanded require- 
ments were so slight as to-be- unworthy-of-notice — _____ 

The basic question of who should manage WS 1171, was resolved in " 

Gordian-knot fashion on lOOctober 1955, when General Power ruled that the 
entire program would be transferred from the custody of Wright Air Develop- 
ment Center to the We stern Development Division. The formal notification 
did not come for another month, and final details of the transfer were not 
settled until '956 had begun. Nevertheless, the broad outlines of the 

The committee members included, among 13 attending, Professor John 
von Neuman, Professor G, B- Kistiakowsky, Dr. C. B. Millikan, 
Professor J. B. Wiesner, and Dr. H. F- York— all concerned in the 
decision which had resulted, a year earlier, in establishment of an 
accelerated ballistic missile program. 



undertaking, the scope of the task, and the obvious difficult)' rf the program 
were made clearly apparent in the revised system requirement which I 

formally assigned the reconnaissance satellite to General Schr-.ever's j 


The Scientific Satellite and WS 117L 

Although much remained before the WS 117L program crfd complete 
the transition from system proposal to system development, the first steps 
had been taken. Unhappily for the simplicity of program marigement. how- 
ever, the years between 1953 and 1956 were also marked by tie commingling 
of military space vehicle programs with "alternative" or "scientific ' 
satellite proposals. The basic requirement originated in Un"--ed States 
agreement to participate in the International Geophysical Yesr activities, 
became attached to independent satellite proposals originiatec in both Army 
and Navy rocket research establishments, and eventually affected the 
WS 117L program as it was assigned to the Western Development Division. 

Although the original Navy approach ol 1945 and the RAND studies of 
early 1946 both contemplated prototype satellites with more 'scientific" 
than military application, it was not until October 1948 that the general 
scientific community was exposed to such notions. In thatmcnth, the 
Journal of Applied Physics published the "Grimminger Report," a brief 
article based on unclassified elements of the earlier RAND studies. Its 
principal effect was to stir up enthusiasm among the various rational rocket 
societies and those relatively small and isolated groups of specialists whose 
interests were affected by the prospect of space exploration. 

The second major impulse for the creation of a scientific satellite came 
from the space flig'.jt enthusiasts and their allies in astronautics. Both 
formal and informal discussions of the feasibility of and the need for scien- 
tific satellites marked the proceedings of the Second Congress of the 
International Astronautical Federation, in London, and the First Symposium 
on Space flight, in New York, during the fall of 1951. Publication of the 

CrSflF* SSEH-2 


proceedings of the London meeting as The Artificial Satellite gave the 
British Interplanetary Society the distinction of having prepared and circulated 
the first published work to be devoted exclusively to space vehicles. 

Wernher von Braun was by that time conducting his own campaign for 
sponsorship of an experimental satellite program but as yet had not sacured 
support from the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, The "MOUSE" (Miniumum 
Orbital Unmanned Satellite, Earth) proposal originated by Dr. Fred Singer 
was attracting some attention by 1953. (Singer, Arthur C, Clarke, and 
A. V. Cleaver of the British Interplanetary Society chose the name and 
blocked out a public relations program for "MOUSE" during an informal 
meeting in London. ) After being rather extensively discussed during the 
May 1954 Symposium on Space, in New York, the Singer scheme proceeded 
to gain considerable support in conventional scientific circles. 

Concurrent with the "MOUSE" proposal, von Braun^ formally recom- 
mended that the Army fabricate: and launch "a minimum satellite vehicle 
based upon components available from missile developments of the Army 
Ordnance Corps." Specifically, he urged that the Army use a Redstone 
missile as the first-stage booster for a satellite. Deciding that the partici- 
pation of all three services would be necessary to acceptance and funding of 
such a program, the Army invited both the Air Force and the Navy to 
cooperate. The plan then being considered involved orbiting a five -pound 
inert "slug" about two feet in diameter, using clusters of solid-fuel Loki 
rockets as the upper three stages of the four -stage launch vehicle. 

The Navy expressed rather more than mild interest, but the Air Force 
declined participation because of its concern for long range efforts leading 
to heavier satellites with military utility. The key Army report was issued 
on 15 September 1954, while the formal approach to the Navy (following 
preliminary informal inquiries) was embodied in a memorandum of 
14 December. Project costs, at that point, were estimated at Sl7 million. 
Some 3500, 000 actually were made available to support initial studies. 

Then chief of the Guided Mi. 
Missile Laboratory, at Red; 

Although the Air Force was not particularly attracted by the von Braun 
approach, continued Air Force interest in the general topic was indicated by 
the appearance of a February 1954 RAND study dealing with the uses of a 
scientific satellite. In both the 1954 study and a supplemental report of 
June 1955, RAND emphasized the need for an instrumented test vehicle to 
provide useful data for later space research; the concept of an "inert slug" 
then being considered by the Army and the Navy was quite ignored. As had 
been true since 1946, Air Force concern for space exploration was much 
more closely concerned with useful scientific experimentation than with the 
general prospect of orbiting "something." 

Among scientists, the notion of satellite research gained additional 
impetus from published reports of Soviet interest in "an artificial satellite 
of the earth" (November 1953} and from the Soviet creation in September 1954 
of a special Tsiolkovsld gold medal for work in the field of space flight. The 
Russians announced that such awards would be made starting in 1957. Con- 
currently, in 1954, several leading Soviet scientists were named to a 
permanent c 

By August 1954, Congress had sanctioned United States participation in 
the activities of the International Geophysical Year. Shortly thereafter, a 
special committee of the geophysical year agency had recommended 
". . . that thought be given to the launching of small satellite vehicles" and 
the House of Representatives had begun consideration of a formal appropri- 
ation of $10 million to Support American participation in the Scientific 
activities of the international group. {At about the same time, Secretary of 
Defense Charles E. Wilson told a press conference that he had no knowledge 
of any American satellite program.) 

In the early months of 1955, the Army and the Navy worked out the 
details of their proposed joint satellite effort — dubbed Project Orbiter. At 
that point, the National Security Council had to decide what, if any, relation- 
ship should prevail between the existing military missile programs and the 
requirement for a scientific satellite to support the International Geophysical 
*ear. The decision was formally inscribed in a council directive of 
26 May 1955—a document which oi &^S^^^^f^ the President's doctrine 

on the "peaceful uses of space" and which decreed that the American 
satellite for the International Geophysical Year could not employ any missile 
intended for military purposes. 

The selection of a satellite program was entrusted to Donald A, Ouarles, 
then assistant secretary of defense for research and development. Quarles 
named an "Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Special Capabilities," with 
Dr. H. J. Stewart as chairman, to make specific recommendations on the 
scientific satellite. 

When the Stewart Committee began its investigations, the possible 
choices had been reduced to three —and two of these were clearly dependent 
on the use of vehicles drawn from the missile programs of the services. 
The Army and the Navy proposed Project Orbiter, using the Redstone missile 
plus upper stages of Loki rockets. In June, the von Neumann group discussed 
a rather general proposal to employ an early test-version Atlas {Series A) 
missile to boost a scientific satellite into orbit. The general reaction was 
that the required Atlas prototypes could be more usefully employed else- 
where. Nevertheless, the Air Force proposed a combination called 
"World Series" based on an Atlas carrying as its upper stage the well- 
proven Aerobee-Hi space probe rocket. The third alternate was the Navy's 
Project Vanguard, a program hinging on use of modified Viking rocket and 
available upper stages {four stages in all). 

Although the Army concluded, on the basis of such developments, that 
both the Air Force and the Navy were sponsoring firm alternatives to the 
Orbiter program, and that interservice rivalry was at the core of the 
situation, such was not the case. Looking at requirements in the light of 
the 26 May National Security Council directive, the Navy quite logically 
concluded that neither Orbiter nor "World Series" could receive Stewart 
Committee approval. The "Viking proposal," which became Vanguard, made 
its appearance as a backup to the primary Navy submission (jointly with the 
Army) — Project Orbiter. 

Apart from the discussion of an Atlas -launched satellite in the 
von Neumann group, relatively/^^fl-Qt-aawtaftce emerged from Air Force 

quarters during the period when the Stewart. Committee was considering a 
recommendation. The committee visited the Western Development Division, 
and heard briefings on the Atlas program, its applicability to the general 
area of scientific satellites, and the prospect of interference between the 
scientific satellite and the ballistic missile program, but Air Force spokes- 
men were quite reserved in their advocacy of the Atlas approach. Although 
taking a conciliatory approach, division representatives did not disguise 
their conviction that the directed creation of a special relationship between 
Atlas and the scientific satellite could easily cause interference with the 
military effort. They emphasized that a most careful management effort 
would be required to overcome the effects of such interference if the Atlas 
and the scientific satellite were tied together. 

Shortly after the departure of the Stewart group, the Los Angeles complex 
considered Convair's presentation of an Atlas -boosted scientific satellite 
called ORTV-- Orbital Research and Test Vehicle— a 500-pound satellite to 
be tied to an Atlas C missile for launch. In many respects, it was remar- 
ably similar to the RAND concept of early 1947. 

Late in August, the Stewart Committee ruled that Vanguard was more 
acceptable than Orbiter, principally because the latter would require the 
use of military "hardware" — Redstone rockets. The chief of Army ordnance 
research and development promptly protested, pointing out technical short- 
comings in the Vanguard approach and emphasizing the danger to United 
States prestige if the nation failed to be first into space--but the Vanguard 
decision was reaffirmed. Those responsible both for confirming the original 
Stewart Committee recommendation and for rejecting subsequent appeals 
later told Congress that the Vanguard offered "greater promise" than its 
alternatives. The explanation mat under the existing ground rules only 
Vanguard could be selected was not publicly offered. Indeed, at least one 
of the services which offered alternatives to the Vanguard approach was 
not even aware of the prohibition on the use. of a military rocket as the boost 
vehicle; the Air Force presentation team continued to support World Series 
without the least intimation that it had been vetoed in advance. 


Subsequent Air Force participation in the affair of the scientific satellite 
was not germane. to the main course of events there. On 31 August 1955, 
after the Vanguard decision had been made but apparently before it had become 
general knowledge, Air Force headquarters directed the Air Research and 
Development command to establish a separate scientif ic satellite projec ts 
be integrated with the WS 117L program. The directive implied that a 
prototype reconnaissance satellite vehicle should be used to satisfy require- 
ments of the International Geophysical Year. 

One month later, on 31 September, Major General Albert Boyd, the 
command's deputy commander for weapon systems, advised the Pentagon 
that substantial increases in fiscal 1956-1958 funding were essential before 
any progress could be attempted. This response and the impact of the 
Vanguard ruling prompted Air Force headquarters to issue, on 14 October, 
further instructions that the Air Research and Development Ccmmand should 
take no additional action on a scientific satellite program until Air Force 
responsibilities in that area had been clarified. 

On 1 November 1955 the "hold order" of mid-October was cancelled 
and the research and development command received teletyped instructions 
to submit a plan for the use of WS 117L prototypes in the scientific satellite 
program. Command headquarters, within two weeks, had assigned respon- 
sibility for preparing such a plan to the Western Development Division. That 
organization, in rather less than two months, produced a detailed develop- 
ment plan rnvering a scientific satellite derived from the basic WS 117L 



In retrospect, the real translation point between studies, proposals, 
reports, and component programs with limited objectives on the one hand, 
and a system development phase on the other, was publication of the 
14 January 1956 development plan for a prototype, scientific-satellite 
variant of the WS 117L reconnaissance satellite. Although the preliminary 
development plan obviously was a somewhat hastily composed proposal for 
satisfying an Air Force headquarters desire to participate in the scientific 
satellite program then beginning, it nevertheless represented the first 
positive proposal for orbiting an Air Force space vehicle within a given 





time period. 1-\ forwarding the preliminary development plan, 
General Schriever clearly indicated that his division was principally 
attempting to sa isfy the Pentagon requirement for a demonstration of 
"orbital capability" using major elements of the Advanced Reconnaissance 
System-- WS 117L. The crux of the January 1956 proposal was feasibility 
demonstration "within the International Geophysical Year , . , " JThuslKe ~! 
initial proposal, deliberately "tentative" in nature, encompassed only that j 
portion of the WS 117L program which could influence plans forjhe geo- J 

physical year activities. STGenerafSchriever's words: 

It appears perfectly feasible to provide an orbiting vehicle of considerable 
payload capacity within_th^3G-Y-per4od^prjQjvij!eji.ii^ 

taken_at-an-e5-r-ly~.dale iThis vehicle development can be carried out as \ 

,a coherent part of the overall Advanced Reconnaissance System Program * 
without significant comprormse„to,_.the latte^. Further, if current 
-schedules can ."be rrraintained, no hardware interference with the ICBM 
program is foreseen. Some interference from a personnel dilution 
standpoint will necessarily exist. This can be minimized by advanced 
planning if a consistent program is pursued. 

In polite terms, the general was stating that his organization could 
indeed orbit a scientific satellite if certain conditions were satisfied: ade- 
quate financial support, appropriate personnel reinforcements, and 
resolution to proceed with the program once it had been approved- -without 
frequent halts and starts. 

The January 1956 proposal conceived of an initial orbital flight, using 
an Atlas Series C missile as the boost vehicle, by 19 August 1958. The 
satellite itself, to weigh about 3, 500 pounds, was to contain " a propulsion 
system, guidance and control equipments, beacons and other itemsjbeing v » 
developed for the ARS [Advanced Reconnaissance System] and essential for j 
. these tests." jb _ __-__„_ J 

In many respects the proposed vehicle resembled the Thor-Agena 
combinations actually used in the Discoverer program more than five years 
later --with Atlas substituted for Thor. Specific scientific measurements 
which the planning group felt Could be taken by the proposed vehicle included 
atmosphereic density, frequency and mass of micrometeorites, thermal flux 
effects in orbit, solar radiation in the ultraviolet and X-ray regions, and 
effects of the ionosphere and trophosphere on communications. Additional 




data that could be obtained from the proposed satellite, it appeared, could 
include information on cosmic radiation, the earth's magnetic field, and 
solarhigh frequency radio noise. 

Success in the effort, the Western Development Division carefully 
explained, would be dependent on four basic circumstances: maintenance of 
the ballistic missile program schedules, a prompt decision to proceed with 
the "preliminary" satellite proposal, early selection of a suitable contractor, 
and "the provision of adequate funds." Planners anticipated that the results 
of the satellite experiments would be beneficial to progress in ballistic 
missile development, but specified that missile contractors should not be 
called upon to participate in the satellite program if that participation would 
"detract in any way" from their primary c 

Estimated program cost totalled 395.5 million, of which $13 million had 
to be made available by I April 1956 if the proposed schedule was to be 

On 16 January 1956, General Power accepted and forwarded the prelim- 
inary plan. Two days later, the Air Force Research and Development Policy 
Council completed a rapid review of the proposal and sent it to the Stewart 
Committee. Early in February, a composite team from several Air Research 
and Development Command centers and divisions supported the written 
proposal through the medium of a special presentation. The Air Force 
group did not in all respects stand firm behind the Western Development 
Division plan, however. On instructions from General Putt, newly named 
deputy chief of staff, development, in Air Force headquarters, the presen- 
tation team refrained from emphasizing the need for total program approval 
and indicated general willingness to "accept approval of a portion of the 

As far as the Air Force was concerned, nothing particularly significant 
came from the January 1956 development plan or the later presentation to 
the Stewart Committee. Notwithstanding the fact that the committee had been 
far from unanimous in endorsing the Vanguard approach as the most prom- 
ising of the several alternativrfs-Att^lQ^^j^SL decision in favor of 




Vanguard w 

as alio 

wed to 


probably mj 

sde no 


:nce. t 

have ended. 

in time, as 

did the 


Putt's decision not to press the issue 
L more forceful course presumably would 
action of the chief of Army research and 
development, Lieutenant General J. M. Gavin, who in the spring of 1956, 
again vigorously argued for approval of a modified Orbiter program as a 
much more promising approach than Vanguard. On 15 May he received 
orders "telling me in specific terms [he later testified] that the Army 
would not prepare to launch a satellite using its Jupiter Or Redstone 
missiles." Whatever the consequences, the May 1955 National Security 
Council decision to separate the scientific satellite from military programs 

prevailed^ In the instance of both the Army Orbiter and the Air Force ^^ 
WS 117L, the key factor in the decision not to proceed with an alternative 
""O'r'accessQry scientific satellite approach was the strong possibility that the 
close association of such a satellite with a specific military weapon might 
delay the scheduled delivery of that weapon. General Schriever and his 
staff had consistently emphasized that the earliest possible operational 
availability of an intercontinental ballistic missile was the key objective 
of the Air Force program and that an Atlas -launched satellite effort had to 
hinge on success in that effort. The Army frankly conceded that acceptance 
of its plan to launch a Redstone Arsenal satellite by January 1957 would 
delay the Jupiter missile program by about three months. The delicacy of 
development, test, and delivery schedules for the Atlas was even more 
pr: ' .^nced than was true of Jupiter. Even while proposing a plan for using 
the Atlas Series C missile to orbit a prototype satellite, the Air Force 
repeatedly emphasized that no more than a slight slippage in Atlas develop- 
ment would be needed to delay availability of Atlas boosters past the point 
where they could be used to satisfy International Geophysical Year require- 
ments. Thus the uncertainty of success in meeting geophysical year dead- 
lines and the general prejudice against interfering in any way with the 
progress of ballistic missile development essentially caused the demise of 
the 1956 proposal to orbit an Air Force scientific satellite. 



Something in the nature of an epilogue to the January -February 1956 
episode occured one year later. On 1 February 1957 the development staff 
in Air Force headquarters, at the request of the Department of Defense, 
asked General Schriever's group to submit a current estimate of the ability 
of the Air Force to build a "back-up" scientific satellite that could be launched 
during the International Geophysical Year. The West Coast agency replied 
on 8 February, in a message that was forwarded from command headquarters 
three days later, that no Air Force scientific satellite launchings could be 
scheduled with any assurance of success before mid-1959, but that if the 
Atlas program continued to make excellent progress it might be possible to 
schedule one or two maximum risk launchings during 1958--that is, during 
the final months of the International Geophysical Year. In either event, some 
391 million in additional funds would be needed to support such an effort, 
exclusive of base operation and maintenance costs. 

The Department of Defense, which again, was considering variants of 

\ the Vanguard and Orbiter proposals as well as a scientific satellite based 
on the WS 117L, decided again that no justification existed for_tying the ^ 

, WS 117L program to International Geophysical Year Programs.^ The 
Stewart Committee unanimously endorsed the validity of the current 
Air Force approach and, by implication, the need for a military satellite. 
Nevertheless air staff members in the Pentagon remained conscious of the 

_conti„^ed presence of anti-satellite sentimentin the defense department. 
Som<- —'ficials in the defense establishment openly questioned the feasibility ' 
of a -reconnaissance satellite, much less the existe&ce_af ^-valid-military^ 
requirement for such_a...&y.sieni7^jPerhaps equally troublesome, concern for 
a variety oL other programs which, in the climate of the early 1950's, 

Precisely ten years earlier, on 2 February 1947, RAND had submitted 
the first technically detailed scientific satellite proposal to the (then) 

.^Atm^AirF^rces^ _____ . _ _ __ 

The attitude was scarcely unprecedented, one of the most notorious ] 
examples being Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy's flat refusal to j 

believe in the feasibility of an atomic bomb until the very day of the I 
Almagordo test in July 1945. ..._.-i-- 



• -SMflQEim/iL 

appeared to be far more significant to the Air Force than military satellites, 
frequently caused even those who were officially supporting the space effort 
to be somewhat tepid in their support. Thus Air Force planners convinced 
of the urgency of a space program and working to secure its approval too 
often found their audiences at higher levels to be either indifferent or actively 
hostile to their proposals. 

Nevertheless, work went doggedly ahead. Even though the "crash effort" 
to prepare a development plan for a scientific satellite to orbit by the fall of 
1958 took precedence, work on a military system with -a more realistic dead- 
line continued. Indeed, considerable urgency attached to the preparation of 
a full development plan. On 10 February 1956, before anything was known 
about the Stewart Committe eiSLd e ci s ion on the proposed "prototype" scientific 
satellite, the project officerjfor WS 117li t (Colonel O. J. Glasser) outlined a 
schedule calling for the completion of all basic planning by 1 April, The 
project office met that deadline, forwarding on 2 April a formal development 
plan that established a May 1959 target date for first orbit. (However, as 
late as March 1956 Glasser's group still was giving thought to meeting the 
time requirements of the geophysica 1 , year program, and as much as a year 
later it did not seem entirely impossible to launch some sort of a satellite by 
the end of the geophysical year. )** 

The full-scope system development planj for WS 117Ljreceived General 
Schriever's approval on Z April 1 956 and Gene ral Power 's endorsement 
three weeks la ter. ' Designed to satisfy the requirements of the March and 
October 1955 operational requirement and system requirement documents, 
it was almost exclusively concerned with the purely military reconnaissance \ 
aspects of th e satellite program, jln the~sense of providing that early flignTT 
would have the "additional objective" of collecting "geophysical data of 
interest to the scientific community in general," it conformed roughly to 
some of the details of the preliminary plan of 14 January. That was the only 
significant concession to the scientific satellite, however. The orbital 
element was essentially a refined reconnaissance satellite tied to an Atlas 
launch vehicle. The complete system, including vital ground installations 
for analyzing and disseminating the collected information, was intended to be 




fully operational by the third quar 
research and development cost wa 

bt of 1963. Exclusive of facilities, the 
i expected to be about Si 14.7 million. 

Air Force headquarters approved the 2 April plan, essentially as sub- 
mitted, on 24 July 1956. A development directive covering the system 
appeared on 3 August. It contained only one important qualification- -but 
that was all important: development was authorized within a funding limita- 
tion of S3 million for fiscal 1957. The Air Research and Development 
Command system development directive {actually prepared in the Pentagon) 
which appeared on 17 August expanded on that qualification by citing "severe 
limitations on FY 1957 funds available to this command," and conceding that 
this was "inadequate initial funding." 

Nevertheless, almost precisely 10 years after its first appearance in 
the guise of a RAND study ; the military . satellite had ach ieved system status 
But whereas conservative estimates of program costs had indicated 
need of at least S39.1 million through fiscal 1957, the WS 117L program 
approved in August 1956 was funded at rather less than 10 percent of the 
requirements level. |It was not a particularly auspicious start, """But" ~ - 
c6n s ideVirtg" the obstacles of funding stringency, skepticism and "policy 
considerations" that had been overcome in progressing that far, the achieve 
merit was not unremarkable. _____ 


Yet the obstacles that had appeared as early as 1946 still were trouble- 
some Through the whole of the period when the supporters of WS 1I7L were ! 
seeking program approval and adequate funding, the general attitude of the i 

Department of Defense remained hostile toward satellites. Although not 

s departmental opinion that satellite vehicles were 
that until Vanguard experiments confirmed feasibility 
im should be funded at the "studv level." 

openly proclaimed, it w 
not feasible and further 
itself the WS 117Lprog. 

Another obstacle to careful and detailed planning effort was a severe 
restriction on the circulation of information concerning the WS 117L. proposals. 
The obviously critical political implications of a reconnaissance satellite 
designed to operate in peacetime served to inhibit free discussion of the 
program itself. The extent to which such rigid security classification 




hampered thorough planning and prevented a more effective presentation of 
WS U7L realities was difficult to assess, but in the opinion of one key 

_paitijap»nt 1 _itJ^rlam)yJiadJUin_adjEsrstlsai!a£tJ! _ 

At the point of initial program approval and funding, in 1956, the 
Air Force space effort gave every indication of being on a sound technical 
foundation. Unhappily, adequate funding still was lacking, and perhaps more 
important, high level understanding of the vital need for a realistic military 
space effort was scant. There lay the real problem. 



The background of the ballistic missile decision of 1954 is perhaps the 
best documented event in Air Force history. The "most official" version 
is probably that summarized in Congressional Record (Appendix), 
2 Sep 1960, extension of remarks of Rep L C Arends, pp A6642-6645. 
Most of the key documents, too numerous to cite, are included in 
"Basic Documeats Collection"- in SSD Hist Div-files. 

Memo, MajGen J B Carey, D/Plans, DCS/Plans and Progs, to D/Ops, ! 
DCS/Ops, subj: Policy on Earth Satellite, 18 Nov 1957, with incls: 
Position Paper and Chronology, cited in Bowen mss. 

Interview, LtCol V M Genez, SAFSP, by R 1. Perry, SSD Hist Div, 
23 Jul 1962. Col Genez later concluded that high SAC officers tended 
to see mere value in a reconnaissance satellite than most ARDC general 
officers, though Generals Putt, Power, and F B Wood were notable 
sponsors and supporters of Feed Back. 

"Project 1115 Background," Dec 1954; DF, Maj Q A Riepe, Weap Sys 
Officer, MX-2226, Dir/Weap Sys Ops, WADC, to Security Div, IG, 
WADC subj: Project Nickname, 14 Dec 1954, and cmt 2, IG to 
Dir/Weap Sys Ops, 17 Dec 1954. 

Minutes of ICBM Scientific Advisory Committee Mtg, 15 Oct 1954, 
preo by LtCol B L Boatman, secy, in SSD Hist Div Basic Docs; memo, 
BrigGen B A Schriever, Cmdr, WDD, to Col C H Terhune, D/Cmdr 
Weap Sys, subj: Satellite Development Pian 15 Apr 1955, in SSD Hist 
Div files, Space -Gen. 

GOR No 80, 16 Mar 1955: "General Operational Requirement for a 
Strategic Reconnaissance Satellite Weapon System," in SSD Hist Div 
file: ARS/WS 1171, thru 1955. 

ARDC S R No 5, 29 Nov 1954 and Amend No 1, 8 Aug 1955, authorized 
design studies by industry; Hist Rpt, WS 117L, Jan-Dec 1956 (WDD), 
in SSD Hist Div file; Genez interview, 23 Jul 1962; presn: ARS 
Presentation, LtCol W G King, Ch, MX-2226 WSPO, to 
BrigGen B A Schriever, Cmdr WDD, and staff, 7 Nov 1955, cy in SSD 
WS 117L files, R and D Center. 



9. Minutes of the ICBM Scientific Advisory Committee, mtg of 16-17 | 
Jun 1955, prep by LtCol B L Boatman, WDD, in SSD Hist Div files. I 

10. Ltr, MajGen A Boyd, D/Cmdr Weap Sys, ARDC, to j 
BrigOen B A Schriever. Cmdr WDD, no subj, 7 Nov 1957; Memo of j 
Understanding, MajGen B A Schriever, Cmdr WDD, and 

BrigGen H M Estes Jr. Dir/Sys Met, ARDC (Det 1, W-PAFB), subj; ! 

Transfer of Responsibility for ARS" Program, 13 Jan 1956; ARDC SR 
No 5, 17 Nov 1955, in SSD Hist Di v ARS/WS Ii7 L file. 

11. Testimony of MajGen J B Medaris, Cmdr, ABMA, Johnson Committee 
hearings , 14 Dec 1957; testimony of LtGen J M Gavin, Ch Rand D (DCSK 
U S Army, Johnson Committee hearings, 13 Dec 1957; Spec Rpt, RP-1, 
"Project Orbiter," prep by R W Seese, ABMA Dev Ops Div, 14Sep 1956, 
cited in D S Akens, Historical Origins of the George C Marshall Space 
Flight Center , NASA Hist Dec 1960; ltr.TTh GMDD, Drd Msl Lab; 
Redstone Arsenal, to Ch. Aeromed Br, (Aeromed Lab.) ARDC (WADC.) 
23 Dec 1954, in ABMA Hist Div files, cited in Akens: Origins . , , ; 

J B Medaris, Countdown for Decision (New York, Putnam, I960}; 
A C Clarke, The Making of A~ "Hoon~ ?New York, Harper, 1957). 

12. RAND Rpt RM-1194, Scientific Uses for a Satellite Vehicle (R R Carhart), 
12 Feb 1954; RAND Rpt RM- 15dTJ7"Scientific Uses of an Artifical Satellite 
(H K Kallmann), 8 Jun 1955. 

13. Johnson Committee hearings, I, 606, reprint of portion of special RAND 
memo; F j Krieger, Behind the Sputniks, A Survey of Soviet Space 
Science (Washington, Public Affairs Press, 1958), 3-4. 

14. Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1955, P L 663. 68 Stat 818; Aeronautics 
and Astronautics , NASA chronology (E E Emme) (Govt Print Otc, 1961), 
pp 76, 77; New York Times , 17 Nov 1954, 22 Dec 1954. 

15. NSC Dir 5520, 26 May 1955, cited in Bowen mss. In his 18 Jun 1962 
letter to Putnam (SSD), Bowen calls this "the decisive document" in the 
subsequent progress of the American scientific satellite effort. Although 
it is difficult to discover what alternatives were considered before the 

, NSC made its ruling, it is abundantly clear that the effect of the ruling 
was to eliminate from consideration both the ABMA (Redstone -Jupiter) 
and the WDD (Atlas -Thor) vehicles, although these were the only high- 
thrust rockets that could conceivably be made available during the course 
of the geophysical year. 

16. Minutes of ICBM Sci Adv Comm Mtg, 16-17 Jun 1955, p 6; Akens; 
Origins ._^ , citing Rpt of the Ad Hoc Adv Gp on Spec Capabilities, Ofc 
of Asst Secy/Def, Aug 1955, pp A-l, 1-17; ltr, Bowen to Putnam, 

18 Jun 1962. 


uuni lULIiliML 

IT. Memo, Col C H Terhune, D/Cmdr Tech Ops, to BrigGen B A Schriever, 
Cmdr, WDD, subj; Visit of DOD Satellite Committee, 28 June 1955; 
memo by WDDHistn.subj: Convair Presentation, 29 Aug 1955, 30 Aug 
1955, both in SSD Hist Biv-ftles-.--ftRS/*S+Wi-«ii-.u-J$5S__ _ 

18. Johnson Committee hearings, testimony of D A Quarles, Secy AF, 
27 Nov 1957, pp 284-286, LtGen J M Gavin, DCS/R and D, Army, 

13 Dec 1957, pp 505-510, and MajGen J B Medaris, Cmdr, ABMA, 

14 Dec 1957, pp 540-547; Genez interview, 23 Jul 1962. Genes, who 
made the AF presentations to the Stewart Committee and to Quarles, 
was not aware of the NSC directive at the time and actually did not learn 
of its details for another six years. As he recalled events, there was 
no evidence that the Army had any knowledge of the NSC directive, and 
the fact that both Von Braun and Medaris continued to .endorse the use 
of a Redstone launch vehicle would tend to support such an observation. 

19. Memo, Col P E Worthman, Ch, Ballistic Div, Asst D/Cmdr Weap Sys 
(Missiles and Mil Space Sys), to LtGen S E Anderson, Cmdr, ARDC, 
subj: Chronology of Scientific Satellite Programs, Sept 1959, cy 
retained by Col Worthman, Ch, SSD Plans and Progs Ofc, and extracted 
for SSD Hist Div, June 1962, in SSD Hist Div files; interview of 

Col P E Worthman, Ch, SSD Plans and Progs Ofc, by R L Perry, 
SSD Hist Div, 1 June 1962. 

20. Rpt, WDD (ARDC) Development Plan, "Weapon System 1171. Preliminary 
Development Plan (Initial Test Phase), Advanced Reconnaissance System," 
14 Jan 1956 (probable date, not specifically marked on rpt), p ii, in 

SSD Hist Div files. 

21. Rpt, WDD Dev Plan, WS 117L (Preliminary), 14 Jan 1956. 

22. Memo, Col C H Terhune, D/Cmdr Tech Ops, to BrigGen B A Schriever, 
Cmdr, WDD, subj: ARS, 16 Jan 1956; memo, Col O H Glasser, Asst for 
Sys Mgt, to Col C H Terhune, D/Cmdr Tech Ops, WDD, subj: 
Presentation to the Stewart Committee on WS-177L, 7 Feb 1956, both 

in SSD Hist Div files: ARS/WS 117L 1955-1956; TWX, AFORD-RE- 
54733, Hq USAF to Cmdr, WDD, 22 Jan 1956; DF, LtCol F C E Oder, 
Ofc of Asst to Cmdr, ARDC, to Exec WDD, subj: RDGE Diary Items 
for Week ending 27 January 1956, 31 Jan 1956, in SSD Hist Div files: 
WAR; memo, Worthman to Anderson, Sept 1959; Worthman interview, 
1 June 1962. 

23. Worthman interview, 1 June 1962; Memo, to Worthman to Anderson, 
Sep 1959; Johnson Committee hearings, II, 1474, testimony of 
LtGen J M Gavin, DCS/R and D, Army, 6 Jan 1958, and I, 509, 

Worthman to Ander 

cg;:.--.- 1 -- 



u ^Ml 

25. Interview, Col Ray Soper, Ch, Plans and Progs Ofc, BSD, by R L Perry, 
■ SSD Hist Div, 29 May 1962; Johnson Committee hearings , I, 1116, 
testimony of R E Gross, Chm of the Bd. Lockheed Aire Corp, 
15 Jan 1958- Worthman interviews, 1 Jun, 25 Jun 1962; ltr (1st ind), 
R E Soper, Ch, Plans and Progs Ofc, BSD, to SSD Hist Div, subj; 
Request for Com ments on Manuscript, 6 Aug 1962, in SSD Hist Div files. 

,/ „ r„i n I ranser Asst for WS 117L, to Col C H Terhune, 

26 - D/tokr Tech 0^ WD r D , subj: ARS Activities, 10 Feb 1956; ltr. 

Sol C H TerhunT, D/Cmdr Tech Ops for BrigGen B A Schriever, Cmdr, 
WDD to Cmdr ARDC, subj: WS 117L Contractor Selection Board, 
H^b 195? memo, Cmdr R C Trua*, Asst Dep, WS 117L Weapon 
q it, Ofc 'to B^gGenB A Schriever, Cmdr, WDD, subj: 117L 
System Ofc »»"£"» „ 6 all in SSD Hist Div files: Terhune 

fe C "s, Feb! Jar" l^t! WDD Dev Plan, '..WS 
Reconnaissance System, " 2 Apr 1956. 

27. Rpt, WDD, Dev Plan, WS 117L, 2 Apr 1956. 

«- », oe W7 fl , nnn Svitem U7L Advanced Reconnaissance 

28. USAF Dev Dir No 85, Weapon System! ii£ n Aug 1956. 

___^XSlS!Hi_l,A , ill! 56 i^^i yS 111 - - 

29. Ltr (1 st ind), Soper to SSD Hist Div, 6 AVg 1962. 












As st 



Army Air Forces 

Army Ballistic Missile Agency 





Air Force 


Air Materiel Command 

Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion 


Air Research and Development Command 

Advanced Reconnaissance System 





Brig Gen 

Brigadier General 


Ballistic Systems Division 


Bureau of Aeronautics 




Commanding General 












Communi cation (s ) 






Deputy Commanding General 


Deputy Chief of Staff 


Deputy Chief of Staff, Development 

DCS /Mat 

Deputy Chief of Staff, Materiel 








Disposition Form 


Director; Directive 




Docum^i— ^y^;.^ 



Guided Missilefs) 

Guided Missile Development Divia 

General Operational Requirement 



History; Historical 







Intercontinental Ballistic Missile 

Inspector General 





Joint Research and Development Board 


Lieutenant Colonel 


Lieutenant General 




Ma j Gen - 



Major General 








Me efcing 

National Aeronautics and £ 


National Security Council 

: Administration 










Rear Admiral 

R and D 

Research and Development 








Science; Scientific 










System Requirement 




Space Systems Division 







Technical; Technology 







United States Air Force 
United States Navy 


Wright Air Development Center 

Western Development Division 


Weapon System Project Office 


Aerobee-Hi (rocKet), 48 

Aerojet Engineering Company, 3 

Aeronautics Board, 10; see also Joint Research and Development Board 

Air Force Research and Development Policy Council, 52 

Air Materiel Command, 24 

Air Research and Development Command, 33, 34, 36, 41, 50, 56 

Armed Forces Policy Council, 40 

Army Air Forces Scientific Advisory Group, 13n 

Army Ballistic Missiles Agency, 14n 

Army Ordnance Corps, 46 

Arnold, General of the Armies H.H., 9, 11, 13n, 19 

Artificial Satellite, The, 6, 46 

Atlas (missile), 35, 43, 48, 4v, 53 

Atomic Energy Commission, 34 

B -29 AIRCRAFT, 16 

Bombardment Missiles Branch (Wright Air Development Center), 36 

Bowen, Dr. H. Lee, iv, v 

Boyd, Major General Albert, 50 

British Interplanetary Society, 46 

Bureau of Aeronautics (Navy), 9 

Bush, Vannevar, iii, 9n, 13n, 19, 41 

CHINA, 32 

Clarke, Arthur C., 46 

Cleaver, A. L., 46 

Cogswell, Captain W. P. (Navy), 10 

Committee on Guided Missiles (Joint Research and Development Board), 18 

Communication and Navigation Laboratory (Wright Air Development Center 

Congress of the United States, 47, 49 

Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Company, 20 

Craig, Lieutenant General H. A., 23 

Crawford, Major General A. R., 24 

Department of State, 8 

Deputy Chief of Staff, Development (Air Force), 33 
Discoverer (satellite), 51 

Doolittle, J. A., 42 
Dornberger, Walter 
Douglas Aircraft Co 






Gardner, Trevor, 40, 42 

Gavin, Lieutenant General J.M. , 53 

General Operational Requirement (GOR) No. 80, 42 

Genez, Lieutenant Colonel V.M. , v, 36 

German Society for Space Flight, 3 

Glasser, Colonel O.J. , 55 

Goddard, Professor Robert H. , iv, 2-3 

Greer, Major General R.E. , v 

Grimminger Report, 6, 45 

Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratories, 10 

Guided Missile Development Division (Army Ballistic Missiles Agency}, 46 

Guided Missiles Study Group (Department of Defense), 40 

Hohmann, Dr. Walter, 4 
House of Representatives, 4? 
Huntsville, Alabama, 46 

International Geophysical Year, 6, 45-55 

Joint Research and Development Board, 18 
Journal of Applied Physic s, 6, 45 

Kistiakowsky, Professor G.B. , 44 
Knerr, Major General H.J. , 10 
Korea, Republic of, 32 


LeMay, General C.E., 10, 11, 12, 42 

Lipp, J.E. iii 

Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, 43 

Loki (rocket), 48 

London (England), 4, 45 


Matador (missile), 35 

McClellan, Major General H.W. , 10 

Millikan, Dr. C.B. , 44 

Mitchell, Major General Willia 

"MOUSE" (satellite), 46 



Navaho (missile), 20 

New York, 46 

North American Aviation, Incorporated, 10, 34 

OBERTH, HERMANN, 2, 5, 13 
Ordnance Missiles Laboratory (Army), 46 
ORTV (Orbital Research and Test Vehicle), 49 


Pentagon (building), 33, 50 

Poland, 4 
JowejjJ-ieutenantJjeneral T.S. , 42-44, 51, 52 
' Project Feed Back, 33^ 35, 36^ 
-Project 111 J, 41, 47-55 

Project Orbiter, 6 

Pro ject EierLP"lpir;~43^ 

Putt, Lieutenant General D.L. , 31, 42, 52 

QUARLES, D. A. , 49 


RAND Corporation, original program, 12; first satellite study, 13-16; 1947 
satellite proposals, 21; expansion of studies, 25; satellite utility 
studies, 31; April 1951 proposals, 31-33; contracts for subsystem 
analyses, 34; urges system development program, 36-37 

Redstone Arsenal, 46, 53 

Redstone (missile), 21, 46, 48, 49 

Research and Development Board, 19, 30, 33 

Research and Development Committee, 17 
-Richardson, Brigadier General W.L. , 10 

Riepe, Lieutenant Colonel O- A., 43 


Schriever, Brigadier General B.A. , 43, 45, 51,53, 55 

Scientific Advisory Board, 41-42 

Scientific Advisory Committee, 42 

Scientific satellite, 45-55 

Second Congress of International Astronauticai Federation, 45 

Sessums, Major General J. W. , 44 

Senate Committee on Atomic Energy, 14n 

Singer, Dr. Fred, 46 

Snark (missile), 35 

Soper, Colonel Ray, v 

Soviei Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), 8, 31, 47 

Spaatz, General Carl, 11, 22 

Space (definition), 1 


Sputnik, 1, 12 

Stewart Committee, 48-49, 51-52, 54 

Stewart, Dr. H.J. , 48 

Strategic Missiles Evaluation Committee, 40 

Symington, W.S. , 17n 


Thor (missile), 43 

Thor-Ager.a (space vehicle), 51 

Titan (missile), 43 

Tsiolkovski, Konstatin, 2, 13 

Tsiolkovski Medal, 47 

Twining, General N.F. , 40, 42 

United States Navy, 30, 46 

V-2 (MISSILE), iv, 4, 12, 16, I7n 

Vandenberg, General H.S. , 23 

Vanguard (satellite program), 16, 48-50, 52 

Viking (rocket missile), 21, 48 

vonBraun, Wernher, 4, 14n, 46, 47 

von Karman, Dr. Theodore, 3 

von Neumann, Professor John, 40-44, 48 

WEAPON SYSTEM 117L, 35, 43, 50, 54 

Wehrmacht , 4 

Western Development Division, 42, 43-44, 50-52 

White Sands Proving Ground (Army), 32 

Wiesner, Professor J.B. , 44 

Wilson, C.E. (Secretary of Defense), vii, 40, 47 

"World Series" (satellite proposal), 48-49 

Worthman, Colonel P. E. , v 

Wright Air Development Center, 35, 43 

Wright Brothers, 16 

Wright Field, 21, 33, 34 


YORK, DR. H.F. , 44 

ZIOLKOVSKY, see Tsioikovski, Konstatin